Indonesia to move capital away from Jakarta — but where?

President Joko Widodo committed to the ‘important decision’ of relocating country’s seat of power, possibly out of Java island, cabinet official reveals

Overcast skies before a downpour in Jakarta. The city is said to be one of the fastest-sinking in the world, researchers say. AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

Indonesia is once again teasing plans to move the capital from congested Jakarta.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, the country’s urban planning minister, revived talk of the decades-long proposal after a cabinet meeting in which President Joko Widodo reportedly described the capital’s relocation as “an important decision”.

Without delving into specifics about the location, the minister said Widodo has “decided on … the option to relocate the capital.”

“In the future, would Jakarta be able to carry the double burden of being both the centre of government and its business centre?” Widodo asked in a statement prior to the meeting.

More: Esteemed judges to select finalists for 2019 PropertyGuru Indonesia Property Awards

Jakarta’s sustainability is eroding fast, given its unchecked population boom. The urban agglomeration around the city is already home to 30 million, making Jakarta one of the world’s biggest megalopolises.

The explosive demographic trends have put denizens at the mercy of urban problems, from expanding informal settlements to worsening traffic snarls.

Rumoured candidates for the new capital include Palangka Raya, in the Indonesian half of Borneo. Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno mulled transferring the seat of power from populous Java island to the capital of Central Kalimantan province; a succession of presidents have since floated the idea.

North Jakarta is sinking at an average of one to 15 centimetres a year, scientists say. At this rate, large parts of the metropolis could be under water by 2050.