In sad acknowledgement that Jakarta is sinking into the sea, Indonesia is planning to move its capital city. Relocating a capital city is a major decision not made lightly, but Jakarta is truly in dire straits. Home to over 10 million people, it’s sinking at one of the fastest rates in the world, with researchers saying that large parts of the city could be completely underwater by 2050. In the past decade, North Jakarta sunk eight feet and is continuing to sink more and more each year. Half of Jakarta is already below sea level and sits on swampy land crossed by 13 rivers, which certainly doesn’t help its situation.
Regarding the issue of relocation, three options have been discussed. The first is building an entirely new capital on another island, the second is moving the capital just outside Jakarta, and the third is designating a special zone for government offices inside Jakarta. The president is reported to favor the first option.
While no new location has been confirmed, the leading candidate is Palangkaraya in Central Borneo. The relatively subdued city, however, isn’t necessarily thrilled that it’s a leading contender for capital-hood. “I hope the city will develop and the education will become as good as in Jakarta,” one high school student told the BBC, “But all the land and forest that’s empty space now will be used. Kalimantan [the Indonesian portion of Borneo] is the lungs of the world, and I am worried, we will lose the forest we have left.”
Bambang Brodjonegoro, the country’s planning minister, said the process of moving the capital could take 10 years but remains optimistic that if other countries could do it, so can Indonesia.