Indonesia will soon have a new capital – one that currently doesn’t exist. Construction is expected to begin soon now that the Indonesian parliament has passed a bill approving the move. The capital, named Nusantara, will be built in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.
The Asian country's current capital is Jakarta, one of the largest cities in South-East Asia with a population of over 10.5 million people and one of the oldest continuously inhabited in the region. The idea of moving capital has been discussed over many years and many presidents. It seems that current President Joko Widodo (also known as Jokowi) is the one that is going to get it done.
The plan was put in motion in 2019, shifting the focus from Java – the island where Jakarta is – to the rest of the Indonesian Archipelago which is called Nunasantara as the capital will be known. The Jokowi government aims for the new city to be not only a political hub but also a place for advanced science and technology, with an eye on sustainability.
Critics have pointed out that the creation of a new city doesn’t really scream sustainability, and there has been limited public and environmental consultation, with some concern about forest destruction for the construction of the new capital.
That said, the winning project in the design contest is “nature-inspired” and focused on the city being built on restored palm oil plantations. The design uses also less than half of the 5,600 hectares allotted by the government plan. In the design, the rest will be tropical forests and wetlands.
Part of the city will be car-free, will have a tram public transport system, and is designed to be compact so people can walk from one end to the other in less than an hour. It will be connected to the two major hubs of the area: the East Kalimantan province capital, Samarinda; and Balikpapan, the largest city in the region.
Constructions are expected to begin very soon, possibly in a matter of months. Crucial infrastructure to build the city will be ready by 2024, a stage that is described as the most critical. The last construction will be completed by 2045.
"From 2022 to 2024 we will focus on the priorities ... We understand that we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, and these will continue to be our priorities. But the new capital development can also be categorised as an economic recovery (project)," Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani said in a press conference as reported by Channel News Asia.
[h/t: Channel News Asia]