JAKARTA: After dithering for decades, Indonesia has decided to move its capital from an overcrowded Jakarta, and President Joko Widodo wants its citizens to have a say in picking the new location.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, sought suggestions from the public about the new capital on his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, drawing thousands of responses from netizens within an hour of the posts.
“Jakarta now bears two burdens at the same time: as the center of government and public services, as well as a business center. Many countries have moved their capitals, while we are just floating it as an idea in each presidential era. In your opinion, where should the capital of Indonesia be located?,” Jokowi wrote in Bahasa on his Twitter account to 11.3 million followers.
Jokowi ordered his cabinet to start work on relocating the capital outside of Java island that houses more than 60% of the country’s 264 million population as he seeks to ensure economic development of the country’s far-flung islands. While moving Indonesia’s administrative center has been discussed periodically for decades, there is now a sense of urgency as Jakarta fast approaches total gridlock.
Jokowi mulls US$33 billion move for Indonesia capital outside Java
Several social media users pitched Central and East Kalimantan as the location best suited for the new capital, while another Twitter user rooted for building a modern, eco-friendly capital modeled on examples from the Netherlands, Japan and New Zealand. While the government has yet to zero in on any specific location, Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan province has been mentioned as a possible site.
The government is considering three cities as possible location for the new capital, Bisnis Indonesia newspaper reported, citing Jokowi. The president didn’t reveal the names of the cities, it said.
Nurdin Mr, a Twitter user, asked Jokowi to locate the new capital in Borneo as the region is free from earthquakes as it falls outside the Ring of Fire, which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Another suggestion to the president was to settle for a location which was free from extremist groups.
Building a new capital may taken between five to 10 years and cost as much as US$33 billion, according to Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro. The government estimates the greater Jakarta area, home to 30 million people, loses 100 trillion rupiah (US$7 billion) a year in lost productivity because of the endemic traffic congestion.