Indonesia Plans to Move Its Capital City to East Kalimantan from Jakarta

President Joko Widodo formally announced on 26th August 2019 in Central Jakarta that Indonesia capital city will be relocated to East Kalimantan in the administrative area of Penajam Paser Utara Regency and Kutai Kartanegara Regency.
President Joko Widodo formally announced on 26th August 2019 in Central Jakarta that Indonesia capital city will be relocated to East Kalimantan on Borneo Island.

The new capital will be built on the administrative area of Penajam Paser Utara Regency and Kutai Kartanegara Regency, East Kalimantan. The plan is now included in the National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2020 to 2024.

President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, had already decided that the capital city should be relocated out of Java island on April 29th, 2019, in a limited government meeting, but the exact location was not determined yet back then.

Kutai Kartanegara Penajam Paser Utara Jakarta
Kutai Kartanegara, Penajam Paser Utara and Jakarta relative position. Courtesy of Google Maps

On the day of the announcement, Jokowi elaborated the reasons why East Kalimantan is chosen. "Why in East Kalimantan? First reason (why it is chosen) is its minimal disaster risk," Jokowi said in the press conference at the palace. Jakarta, and Java in general, is indeed very prone to annual flooding, volcanoes, and earthquakes. In fact, recently, early this month, a 6.8 M earthquake shook the area, including Jakarta, and triggered tsunami warning at the island's south-west coastal regions.

Jokowi further stated that the location of East Kalimantan is in the middle of Indonesia, thus making the province a strategic location to be used as the country's command center.

The current capital's location, which is in the western part of Indonesia, is often seen as one of the reasons why the development of other regions in the country, especially the eastern parts, are lagging behind. The current central government is too far to be effective to manage the middle and eastern Indonesia.

Its proximity to the two big cities of Kalimantan, Samarinda and Balik Papan, is also the reason why the government decided to relocate the capital there. The area also has complete infrastructures. Furthermore, the government already controls 180 thousand hectares of land in East Kalimantan and thereby developing new capital city in there will be cost-effective.

Jokowi also added that this decision will be able to develop industry outside of Java. Currently, 58 percent of Indonesia's economic GDP is in Java, and the island is the country's source of food security. By moving the capital city to East Kalimantan, the government hope that it can lighten the burden of Java.

Four Reasons Why Indonesia Capital City is Relocated Outside of Java

The Indonesia National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) at the Youth Talks on August 20, 2019, presented a number of reasons why Java is no longer chosen as the location of potential new capital city.

  • The population density in Java is too high. According to a survey agency, Survei Penduduk Antar Sensus (SUPAS), 56.56 percent of Indonesian people are concentrated on the island of Java. Meanwhile, Kalimantan, the island where the new capital city is going to be built on, the percentage of Indonesia's population in there is only 6.05 percent or 15,801,800 inhabitants.
  • Economic contribution to GDP is too Java-centrist. Economic contributions on other islands are too far behind and must also be encouraged. More than half of Indonesia economy is sustained by Java. Moving the capital city out side of the island will drive development to other islands.
  • Water supply crisis. The availability of clean water is one of the government's concerns in determining the location of a new capital city. Based on Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) in 2016, Java is experiencing a severe water crisis, especially Central and East Java. Jakarta is also severely suffering from clean water shortage.
  • Land conversion is too dominant in Java. The results of the 2019 Bappenas KLHS modeling shows that the largest land conversion takes place on the island of Java. The proportion of land consumption in Java is reaching five times that of in Kalimantan. The availability of land as a result would be decreased and the increases in property price will also increase the risk homelessness.

How Bad is Jakarta Right Now?

Jakarta is the home of 10 millions people and another 30 millions people live in the surrounding urban area. Which mean that almost half the island's population are living in that area.

This city is the largest city in south east asia and has a very high population density. Acoording to World Population Reviw, the density of Jakarta's city proper is 14,464 people per square kilometer, while the metro area has a density of 4,383 people per square kilometer.

Jakarta has growing traffic problem. According to a report by BBC, The capital city of Indonesia is ranked the fourth worst city in the world based on traffic conditions when it is busy out of 390 cities surveyed.

This problem also complicate the fact that the air quality in Jakarta is worsening. On June 4th this year, Jakarta had the worst air quality in the world, according to AirVisual with Air Quality Index (AQI) of 210. It was worse than even Beijing or New Dehli.

The city of Jakarta is increasingly prone to flooding. Approximately 50% of Jakarta is categorized as flood-prone or has flood levels below 10 years. Normally, a big city should only has a risk of flooding once every 50 years. As reported by Ars Technica, every year Jakarta is sinking up to 3 to 10 centimeters and now it has added up to 4 meters down.

Jakarta Traffic Jam
Jakarta's traffic jam. Photo by ekoherwantoro on Unsplash

Funding for Indonesia New Capital City

President Joko Widodo said that the funding in order to build the new capital city will require Rp 466 trillions rupiah or aproximately US$33 billions.

Only 19 percent of this mega project will be funded with the state budget. The rest of the funding will be acquired from private and state-owned investment.

The fund will be divided into four parts. The first one will be used for construction of vital buildings, such as new parliamentary, judiciary, state palace, police and armed forces offices. Second part will be used to fund supporting infrastructures such as housings, hospitals and schools. The needs for infrastructures such as roads and electricity will be covered by the third part of the funding. Lastly, the fund will be used in order to procure the land.

It Is Not The First Time Indonesia Moves Its Capital

Indonesia had moved its capital four times in the past during Indonesia Revolution period. The relocation was caused due to the war between Indonesia and Netherland. After Indonesia declared its independence on 17th August 1945 and the World War II was over, the Dutch was trying to reestablish its colonial rule in this country.

  • January 4th, 1946. Jakarta to Yogyakarta. The capital city was occupied by Netherland's colonial forces, NICA.

  • December 19th, 1948. Yogyakarta to Bukittinggi. Yogyakarta was occupied after the Dutch Military Agression. Soekarno and Hatta, the first Indonesia's president and vice-president were captured and exiled along with many government officials. Minister Sjafruddin Prawiranegara received mandate to form Emergency Government in Bukittinggi.

  • July 6th 1949. Bukittinggi to Yogyakarta. The government officials were out of exile. Emergency Goverment was disbanded and the authority was returned. United States of Indonesia was formed.

  • August 17th 1949. Yogyakarta to Jakarta. The capital was finally returned back to Jakarta after United States of Indonesia was disbanded. Republic of Indonesia was reestablished.

  • August 26th 2019. President Joko Widodo formally announced that the state capital will be moved to East Kalimantan

The name of the new capital has not been decided. The reaction of Indonesia Citizen so far is mixed. Severel surveys done by several domestic survey agencies, such as Kedai Kopi, show that majority of Jakarta residents opposed the plan. They cited that uncertainity on what is going to happen to Jakarta as the reason why this plan receive negative views.