Jakarta – The decades-old plan to relocate the capital from Jakarta has reached new heights as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has decided on Kalimantan – the Indonesian part of Borneo – as the location to establish a new center of government, a minister has said.
National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said the President, who previously toured provinces in Kalimantan to survey possible locations for a new capital, decided to move the country's administrative headquarters to the resource-rich region.
"[The new capital] will be in Kalimantan. The province will be announced later," Bambang said as quoted by kompas.com.
Jokowi announced in May that the government would push ahead with the plan to relocate the capital city outside Java, citing the need to address overpopulation on the country's most populous island and to ensure more equitable development.
His administration aims to form a center of government similar to Washington, DC, in a new city, leaving Jakarta as the business, trade and financial hub similar to New York in the United States.
A National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) team tasked with studying a location recommended three provinces in Kalimantan, namely South, Central and East Kalimantan, which all fit the requirements for a new capital, including being relatively free from earthquakes and volcanoes.
Shortly after announcing the plan, Jokowi visited two alternative locations in Kalimantan, namely Bukit Soeharto in East Kalimantan and the Triangle Area near Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan.
Bukit Soeharto, a 61,580-hectare forest located in two regencies – Panajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kertanegara – is considered suitable for a new capital because it is strategically located near the mid-point of the toll road connecting Samarinda and Balikpapan, the two largest cities in Kalimantan, both of which also have airports.
Meanwhile, the Triangle Area is located between Palangkaraya, Katingan regency and Gunung Mas regency, where a 300,000-ha plot of land is available for development, and the area is known to be relatively free from natural disaster risks.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Jakarta Post, Bambang said the location for the new capital city would be announced by the end of this year.
In the first phase, the new capital city is planned to accommodate 1.5 million residents, which include around 200,000 state officials and 25,000 police and military personnel. The government would need roughly US$33 billion to build the new capital. (dpk/afr)