Idea for Relocating Indonesia’s Capital Gains Momentum

The relocation of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta is gaining momentum following a number of statements made by government officials last year suggesting that the move out of Java has become a growing necessity.

While Jakarta continues to be the economic heartbeat of the nation, it has been plagued with prolonged problems such as sinking land, endless traffic jams and annual flooding, which is proving costly for the country’s productivity.

The idea of moving the capital to a different city has been on the cards for a long time, but it is not a decision any of the past presidents have been bold enough to take. While remaining largely tight-lipped about the matter, current President Joko Widodo hinted that he and his men may be the ones to make it happen.

Jokowi announced via Twitter last year, “Discourses [sic] about the relocation of the state capital are now still in the analysis phase….Deep calculations are necessary so as to guarantee that the relocation will be really beneficial.”

Upon instruction of the President, the National Development Planning Agency or BAPPENAS, has started looking into sites in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island. “Preferably the new capital is in a central location within Indonesia, not too far East or West,” said BAPPENAS head Bambang Brodjonegoro. “And with minimal risk of natural disaster, to the extent that it is possible in Indonesia…we are mostly looking in Kalimantan,” he admitted.

It has emerged that the chief candidate for the new capital is Palangkaraya, a Kalimantan city that even founding president Sukarno once hoped could replace Jakarta as the capital. As talks of moving the capital to Palangkaraya has started to become more serious, the governor of Central Kalimantan Sugianto Sabran, said that his province is preparing 500 hectares of land in Palangkaraya and a couple of other areas.

The nation is now waiting for the move to happen and is anticipating it to be done under the leadership of President Widodo. However, Vice President Jusuf Kalla has argued that the move is much easier said than done. “Political parties would have to move out. Courts and Supreme Courts would also have to move, aside from the president. Military bases would also have to move. There would be hundreds of thousands who would need housing and offices,” stated Kalla.


For further background on the relocation talks, click here.



Ardi Wirdana is a Jakarta-based journalist covering a variety of topics including business, policy, and news in Indonesia.