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Nusantara, a city for all

Jakarta Post Editorial - March 12, 2022

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo swore in technocrat Bambang Susantono and businessman Dhony Rahajoe as the respective head and deputy head of the Nusantara Capital City (IKN) Authority for a five-year term on Thursday. The duo will lead the development of the nation's new capital, a process that is projected to last up to 20 years.

One of the most crucial public expectations for Bambang and Dhony is that they are "telah selesai dengan diri mereka sendiri", meaning that they have fulfilled their own needs and can now dedicate themselves to the needs of others. We hope their only objective is to give their best in fulfilling the state mandate to build the new capital city, Nusantara.

There should be no doubt about their technical, managerial and leadership capacity, as their track records show.

Bambang is formerly an acting minister, a deputy minister and a vice president of the Asian Development Bank.

As for Dhony, with his latest position as a senior executive of Sinar Mas Group's property giant Sinar Mas Land, he should be able to convince the public that he will not experience any personal conflict of interest in his new post, a particularly sensitive issue.

According to President Jokowi, building the new capital will cost Rp 466 trillion (US$32.7 billion), 19 percent of which is covered by the state budget and the rest from public-private partnerships (PPP) and private investments.

Nusantara, meaning "archipelago", will straddle North Penajam Paser regency and Kutai Kertanegara regency in East Kalimantan, and the President plans to mark Independence Day on Aug. 17, 2024 in the new capital.

Brand-new government offices and residences will be built for around 1.5 million civil servants in Nusantar, which spans 265,142 hectares. State institutions government will be relocated gradually, starting in 2024 with the defense, home and foreign ministries as well as the State Secretariat.

The new capital is not just gigantic in terms of cost and scale, but will also offer lucrative financial benefits as well as political advantages. Representing the new face of Indonesia, Nusantara is designed to accommodate political, economic, environmental, security and global considerations.

Bambang promised to make Nusantara "a city for all", which means the government must ensure public participation during its development. The government needs to be extra patient sometimes and to learn from its past mistakes in ignoring the public's voice, such as during the drafting stage of several controversial laws.

Jokowi instructed Bambang to involve local residents in the city's development, so they have been involved from the very beginning of the project, both culturally and economically. The project should also create jobs in construction as well as the Nusantara authority for the people of East Kalimantan.

Clearing and acquiring land for the project is not just about providing a fair price to local landholders. The government also has an obligation to educate them and ensure that the compensation they receive is used for long-term, productive activities. There have been many tragic stories of farmers who used up their compensation and fell into poverty.

Nusantara is more than the personal legacy of President Jokowi, and is an endeavor of the whole nation. The success or failure of relocating the nation's capital will define Indonesia's future.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/03/11/nusantara-a-city-for-all.htm