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Indonesia will relocate capital from sinking Jakarta to Borneo

Indonesia will relocate its capital after concerns that its current one, Jakarta, is carrying too much of a "burden." The Southeast Asian nation's president Joko Widodo made it official in a televised speech Monday, BBC News reports.

After reviewing studies over the last three years, Widodo said the new capital city will move to the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. He explained Jakarta, a modern city with more than 10 million people, is dealing with various issues, including overcrowding, pollution and traffic congestion.

"The location is very strategic — it's in the center of Indonesia and close to urban areas," he said. "The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services."

Joko Widodo
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo seen Aug. 26, 2019. Reuters

Jakarta, which sits on the island Java, is also the world's fastest sinking city in the world. Parts of it are sinking as much as 10 inches a year and almost half of it sits below sea level, according to the BBC. With the threat of rising sea levels and flooding, researchers say the city could be completely submerged by 2050.

Widodo added the new, unnamed city was at "minimal" risk of natural disasters — as opposed to the likes of Java, Sulawesi, Bali and Lombok, which have been hampered by tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the last two years.

The expected move is already raising environmental concerns. Kalimantan is one of the few places on Earth where endangered orangutans live in their natural habitat. The province is also dealing with a surge in fire hot spots, which can be attributed to farmers clearing out land for palm and pulp plantations.

The project will cost approximately $33 billion and construction would begin as early as 2021.

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