“As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital,” Widodo said in a televised speech, AFP reported. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services.”
(CNN) — A jungle-covered area on the east of Borneo island is set to be transformed into Indonesia’s new capital city.
Concerns over the sustainability of the congested and rapidly sinking political center of Jakarta prompted the need for a new capital. The relocation was announced Monday by President Joko Widodo.
The proposed location, near the relatively underdeveloped cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda, is a far cry from the crowded powerhouse which has served as Indonesia’s financial heart since 1949 — and Widodo acknowledged that moving the country’s capital to the island will be a mammoth and expensive undertaking.
But Jakarta’s rapid expansion in recent years has presented myriad environmental, economic and safety concerns, prompting the government to look elsewhere and ease the strain on the massive metropolis.
The ambitious project to move the capital will likely cost around 486 trillion rupiah ($34 billion), CNN Indonesia reported, and officials have previously said the relocation could take around 10 years.
Jakarta is home to more than 10 million people, according to the United Nations, with an estimated 30 million in the greater metropolitan area — making it one of the world’s most overpopulated urban regions.
It’s also one of the fastest-sinking cities on Earth, according to the World Economic Forum, dropping into the Java Sea at an alarming rate due to over-extraction of groundwater.
The city sits on swampy ground and hugs the sea to the north, making it especially prone to flooding.
A worsening air pollution crisis, exacerbated by near-constant traffic congestion on its roads, has grown so dire that some residents sued the Indonesian government in July.
No name has been given for the new site, but the government originally announced plans to relocate the capital in April. The move requires parliamentary approval to be given the go-ahead.
Indonesia owns the majority of Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, with Malaysia and Brunei each holding parts of its northern region. The island is covered in vast rainforests, but it has been hit by rampant deforestation in recent years.