THE sinking capital of Indonesia will be moved 1,200 miles away to a remote island inhabited by jungle tribes in a £24billion project.
At least 20,000 people from the country’s 21 indigenous groups living in the area earmarked will be forced to make way for Jakarta – which it’s estimated will take more than two decades to construct.
As the city continues to sink, Indonesia’s parliament has rubber-stamped plans to relocate the city to a jungle island on the East Kalimantan province on the Indonesian part of Borneo, which the country shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
Some 1,200 miles away from where the capital sits now, the island will be named Nusantara after undergoing a transformation worth an eye-watering £24billion.
The proposed city will cover around 216 square miles, but in total almost 1,000 square miles have been set aside for the project – with the additional land reserved for potential future expansion.
It would see 1.5million of Jakarta’s 10.5million population relocated as predictions suggest that by 2050, around 95 per cent of North Jakarta will be submerged.
Early plans for the new capital depict a utopian design aimed at creating an environmentally friendly “smart” city, but few details have been confirmed.
It will, however, see new government offices and a 150-metre tall presidential palace built.
But environmentalist critics of the new capital have warned it could damage ecosystems in the region, where mining and palm oil plantations already threaten rainforests that are home to Borneo’s endangered species, including orangutans.
“The construction of the new capital city is not merely a physical move of government offices,” President Joko Widodo said ahead of parliament’s approval of the plan earlier this month.
The President added: “The main goal is to build a smart new city, a new city that is competitive at the global level, to build a new locomotive for the transformation toward an Indonesia based on innovation and technology based on a green economy.”
Plans to begin construction in 2020 were hampered by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The development of the area will now take place in several stages until 2045.
“The new capital has a central function and is a symbol of the identity of the nation, as well as a new centre of economic gravity,” Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa told parliament after the bill was passed into law.
The initial relocation will start from between 2022 and 2024, with roads and ports prioritised to enable access, with some projects operating as public private partnerships, the finance ministry said.
Plans to move the government away from megacity Jakarta – that suffers from chronic congestion, floods and air pollution – have been floated by multiple presidents, but none have made it this far.
Jokowi, as the president is known, first announced his plan in 2019, but progress was delayed by Covid.
The new city has a name chosen by him – Nusantara, a Javanese term for the Indonesian archipelago
It will strengthen supply chains and place Indonesia “in a more strategic position in world trade routes, investment flows, and technological innovation,” the government said in a statement.
But the plans have been slammed by the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), which say laws enabling the move from Jakarta do not providing enough protection for the communities’ land rights.
“The project will trigger problems such as confiscation of customary lands and criminalisation of indigenous people when they try to defend their rights,” Muhammad Arman, AMAM’s Policy, Law and Human Rights Advocacy Director, told AFP.
“They will also lose their traditional jobs such as farming.”