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  • The current administrative headquarters, Jakarta, sinks more than three inches every year

  • The new city, whose construction is planned until 2045, will be an intelligent city with “zero emissions” polluting

The Indonesian Parliament has approved this Tuesday a law that gives the green light to the transfer from capital administrative from Jakarta to a new city that will be built from scratch in the Borneo Island, which is home to one of the largest rainforests in the world. The new city, which will have the name of Archipelago, will be built about 2,000 kilometers from Jakarta, which will continue to be the economic capital, according to official sources. The lower house of the Indonesian Parliament approved the legislative framework for the project, which had been announced by President Joko Widodo in 2019. Likewise, the Minister of Finance, Sri Muyani, stated that the law stipulates how the development of this new city will be, with a first period until 2024 in which construction will benefit from funds dedicated to economic recovery after the pandemic.

The new capital will occupy more than 56,000 hectares in the province of East Kalimantan, in Borneo, an island that is currently shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. In total, and with a view to an expansion of the project, some 256,000 hectares. The first models of the new capital show a project for smart city, built between trees, but at the moment there is no more concrete idea about its appearance. The construction will have several stages until 2045. A future presidential decree will detail the budget, previously estimated at $33 billion. The future city will be governed by the government authority for the capital, a new entity headed by a person appointed by the president for a term of five years, according to the law adopted by Parliament. In addition, the Indonesian chief executive declared last Monday that in Archipelago there will be “zero emissions” pollutants and “the inhabitants will be close to everything, they will be able to move by bike or on foot“.

National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa confirmed on Monday that Widodo has decided to call the new city Archipelago, archipelago in Spanish, a word with which Indonesians usually refer to the whole country. Construction should have started late 2020, but was postponed by pandemic, since Indonesia has been the most affected country in Southeast Asia, with more than 4.2 million cases and 144,000 deaths.

a sinking city

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The transfer of the capital has been a recurring project of successive governments since the middle of the last century, when the city of Palangkaraya, located on the island of Borneo, was proposed as the main city. Jakarta, which is in a 40% below sea level, sinks near 7.5 centimeters on average per year, according to the latest official estimates, although several have been built containment dams to try to stop the advance of the sea. Due to this and to the rains typical of the tropical climate, Jakarta is prone to severe flooding, the last ones took place last December and left more than 39 districts of the city under water. The current capital, located in the northwest of Java, is an impressive conurbation of more than 30 million inhabitants that suffers from lack of infrastructure and is paralyzed by giant traffic jams and a pollution very high.

This capital transfer decision is not a strange practice among Southeast Asian countries in recent years: Malaysia transferred its administrative capital to Putrajaya in 2003 and Burma established in 2006 its capital in Naypyidaw.

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