President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is seriously planning to relocate Indonesia’s capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan. The plan has reviewed two years ago but reached its final decision in the cabinet meeting last April. During the plenary session of House of Representatives (DPR) last week, he asked for permission to make the plan come true.
Jokowi elaborated on the importance of relocating the capital city outside of Java. According to him, the center of economic activity is still concentrated in Jakarta. Java Island became very dense and created inequality to other islands. “If we allow this to continue without any serious effort, then the inequality will get worse,” he said in front of the DPR members.
Jokowi hopes the relocation of the capital city will boost new economic growth, as well as spur economic equality and justice outside Java. He promised its design would represent an identity symbol and the nation’s growth. The new capital city carries the concept of the smart and green (eco-friendly) city.
Several DPR members criticized Jokowi's plan. Bambang Haryo Soekartono from Gerindra Party said the DPR was never involved in discussions regarding the relocation of the capital city, but then the government suddenly asked permission to make it happen.
For him, relocating the nation’s capital city to Kalimantan is merely a PR stunt from the government and a waste of the state budget. “Please reconsider. Do not waste money for unclear purposes. It’s a PR stunt,” Bambang said in the plenary session at the Parliament Building in Jakarta, Tuesday (8/20).
The government should prioritize the state budget for urgent interests, such as food needs and the availability of electricity and water for the people. According to him, these are the basic needs that must be met first before relocating the capital city. The availability of transportation facilities, especially air transportation on the island of Kalimantan is also inadequate to support its transformation into the national capital city.
Yandri Soesanto from the National Mandate Party (PAN) said the plan to relocate the capital city could not be done. “There is no legal power to relocate the capital city, so it cannot be implemented since its law does not yet exist,” he said. The DPR Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah even considered it an absurd plan without good reason. The government must ask for people’s consent and propose various laws that must be discussed and passed by the DPR.
Reasons for Relocating the Capital City
Head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Bambang Brodjonegoro mentioned the reasons for relocating the capital city outside of Java. Currently, Java Island is very dense. Around 56.5 percent of Indonesia’s population is concentrated in this region. Meanwhile, the portion of the people in other areas is still below 10 percent, except for the island of Sumatra. “Jakarta is the ninth most populous city in the world,” he said in the Youth Talks event in Jakarta, Tuesday (8/20).
The high level of urbanization has made Jakarta and the surrounding cities very crowded. Jakarta’s population is five times that of other big cities. The density has even expanded to other cities around Jakarta, such as Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi, Puncak, and Cianjur (Jabotabekpunjur). The Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution once called Jabotabekpunjur as the second-largest metropolitan area in the world after Tokyo (Japan).
Following its high population density, Jakarta has difficulty meeting basic infrastructure needs, such as housing, clean water, and sanitation. About 96 percent of river water in this capital city is polluted. Jakarta and parts of Java have experienced a crisis in the availability of clean water. Population density also makes land on the island of Java more limited.
Another reason is that Jakarta is prone to flooding. In 1989-2007, the land surface fell by 40-60 centimeters (cm) and rose to 80-120 cm in 2015. Meanwhile, water levels increased by 4-6 cm due to climate change.
The economic growth in the western region of Indonesia reached 5.4 percent, higher than 4.9 percent in the eastern region. So far, economic activities are still concentrated in Java and not evenly distributed throughout Indonesia.
Those are the reasons why the government wants to relocate the country's capital city outside Java. The choice is Kalimantan. It was chosen as the prospective location for the new capital city due to several considerations. Based on the results of the Bappenas' study, the location of the new capital city must be strategic and geographically located in the middle of Indonesian territory. It is vital to represent justice and equality by encouraging the acceleration of regional development in Eastern Indonesia (KTI).
Extensive land owned by the government or SOEs must be available so that it does not cost too much investment. The area must be free from disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, erosion, and forest fires. The availability of water resources must also be sufficient and free of environmental pollution.
In order to save on infrastructure costs, the new capital city must be close to the developed cities. At least, there are airports, ports, roads in the surrounding area and the potential for the development of electricity and telecommunications networks.