Indonesia is building a new capital city to replace congested Jakarta

In a highly ambitious and costly exercise, a new location has been picked but it won’t be ready for another decade.
By: | August 28, 2019

For anyone who has made the painful trip from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to its business district, it’s normally a slow and frustrating crawl in a cab. So this week’s announcement that a new capital is being built is welcome news. The only downside is it is at least 10 years’ away.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo revealed the proposed location, near the relatively underdeveloped cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda. No name has been given for the new site, but it will ease the strain on the massive metropolis. Construction on the new capital could begin as early as 2021.

Jakarta is home to more than 10 million people, according to the United Nations, and has been Indonesia’s financial heart since 1949. Its rapid expansion in recent years has presented a host of environmental, economic and safety concerns, prompting the government to look at alternative sites.

The ambitious project to move the capital will cost around 486 trillion rupiah (US$34 billion) but is an investment that will hopefully pay off. Jakarta is one of the fastest-sinking cities on Earth, according to the World Economic Forum, dropping into the Java Sea at an alarming rate due to over-extraction of groundwater.

It has also seen worsening air pollution, exacerbated by near-constant traffic congestion on its roads. The problem is so bad that some residents sued the Indonesian government last month.