Jakarta no longer appropriate as capital

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Thu, 11/25/2010 10:44 AM

Heavy traffic congestion, regular flooding, clean- water shortages and unaffordable land have prompted discourse on relocating the capital city.

“If we do not take action to overcome these problems, social and environmental problems in Jakarta as well as development disparity between the city and other regions in the country will only worsen,” Regional Representatives Council deputy chairman Laode Ida told a seminar on the sustainability of Jakarta as the capital and center of government at the University of Indonesia in Depok on Wednesday.

Currently, 661-square-kilometer Jakarta is home to about 9.6 million people, but during daytime the number can reach more than 12 million considering most people in the satellite cities work in Jakarta.

The condition is worsened by the fact that the number of vehicles has surpassed the city’s population. There are already 11.3 million vehicles in the city.

Furthermore, a study has found that Jakarta will be totally grid-locked by 2014.

Laode said moving the center of government to a region outside of Java was one option, considering the island is overly crowded. About 60 percent of Indonesia’s more than 230 million people reside in Java.

The second option, he said, was moving only legislative and executive activities, “but that would not offer significant change.”

A third option would be to develop other regions so that people would not be attracted to migrate only to Jakarta.

However, Laode said, the first and second options would cost the government more as it would have to build infrastructure in any region chosen as the new capital, as well as relocate all public servants.

“Considering the complexity of the process, the government needs to prepare a long-term plan as well as anticipate any social problems that may occur,” he said.

The third option would also be a financial burden on the central government in supporting development in the other regions, but it would have a positive impact because the distribution of migrants would be more even between one region and another.

However, the third option had the potential to spark social conflict between newcomers and indigenous people, he warned.

Sociologist Adrinof Chaniago, who is also the coordinator of the Indonesian Vision for 2033 team, said a study had been conducted on which region would be the most appropriate as the new capital and it concluded that the ideal region was somewhere in Kalimantan due to its accessibility, comfort and environmental capacity.

“In order to reorganize Jakarta, we must lighten its burden first,” he said.

However, the head of the Presidential Advisory Council, Emil Salim, said it would be better to use the funds to cover the cost of moving the center of government on solving the threat of gridlock in Jakarta in 2014 as it could have a vast political impact on the country.

“Beside, we already have all the infrastructure for government buildings, an electricity network and much more in Jakarta, so why bother developing a new one in a new region?”

He said to overcome the problems currently faced by Jakarta, the city administration should devise integrated development with its satellite cities, starting from a transportation system, industry, education, health and culture so that people would be less tempted to migrate to Jakarta.