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Asia Minute: Indonesia Moving its Capital

Rizky Maharani
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Climate change is affecting various parts of the world differently, and many of the initial impacts are in the Asia Pacific. That includes Indonesia, which has announced plans to move its national capital.

Jakarta has been sinking for a long time. About half the city is now below sea level, and it’s getting worse.

Jakarta is also congested — some of the worst traffic in Asia — and that’s saying something.

Air pollution is a growing problem, and so is overcrowding — the population already tops 30 million.

According to market research firm Euromonitor International, in a little more than a decade, Jakarta will overtake Tokyo as the world’s most populous city.

The government says moving the capital will cost about 33-billion U.S. dollars. Indonesian President Joko Widodo told his citizens Monday “we do not want to do this in a rush, but we want to do this as fast as possible.”

He may also have his political term in mind, it’s up in 2024, and a successor could reverse the decision.

But current plans are to shift the national capital functions to another island, away from Java to theprovince of East Kalimantan on Borneo.

Most of the island is Indonesian territory, but it’s also the location of Brunei, and the eastern part of Malaysia.

The two main existing cities in the province are Balikpapan and the slightly larger Samarinda, where the population is still less than 900,000.

Widodo gave no further details on location, although he said minimizing the risk of natural disasters was one factor in the decision – including “floods, earthquakes, tsunami, forest fires, volcanoes or mudslides.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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