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Indonesia studies new sites for capital city

JAKARTA — Indonesia will finish evaluating alternative cities that could become its new capital by year end, said a government official on Monday (April 10) as Jakarta struggles with overpopulation, flooding problems and inadequate infrastructure.

Indonesia studies new sites for capital city

The sun sets behind office and residential buildings in Jakarta, Indonesia March 29, 2017. Photo: Reuters

JAKARTA — Indonesia will finish evaluating alternative cities that could become its new capital by year end, said a government official on Monday (April 10) as Jakarta struggles with overpopulation, flooding problems and inadequate infrastructure.

Stressing that the government is determined to move the capital out of Java - where Jakarta is currently located - National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) head Bambang Brodjonegor said one of the sites currently under consideration is Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan.

"It has to be outside Java," Antara news agency quoted Mr Bambang as saying. "The final decision will come within this year."

However, Mr Brodjonegor refused to reveal other shortlisted cities under consideration.

But he said in its assessment for the country's new capital city, Bappenas looked into land availability, natural resources surrounding the cities and funding for the construction of the new capital.

With a population of 10 million, traffic-choked Jakarta is blighted by dilapidated housing, strewn with rubbish and suffers from annual flooding.

The country's leaders had for years looked for alternative sites to set up its new capital.

Palangkaraya, on the island of Borneo, was former President Sukarno's choice for the capital because of its position in a quake-free region at the very centre of the archipelago.

Sukarno's proposal was supported by his daughter, former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who said in a speech in 2015 that Palangkaraya is a good alternative as it is located out of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Other cities that have previously been considered include Malang in East Java and Jonggol in West Java.

Jonggol was first mooted by another former president, Suharto, who wanted one of his sons to develop the satellite town as a new capital.

Mr Brodjonegor said yesterday there is a need to build new economic centres outside of Jakarta and Java because current economic activities are not evenly distributed.

He believed even with a new capital city, Jakarta's role as a major economic centre will not diminish.

"If the administrative capital is moved to a new city, Jakarta will continue to be a major centre for businesses," he said.

However, the cost of creating a new capital can easily run into billions of taxpayers' money.

Astana, Kazakhstan's showcase capital, cost over US$12 billion (S$16.86 billion).

Malaysia's Putrajaya, the administrative capital built 25km south of Kuala Lumpur, was promoted and pushed through by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a cost of RM11.83 billion (S$3.75 billion). AGENCIES

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