Central Kalimantan capital city, Palangkaraya, is one of the most potential candidates to be named as the new capital of Indonesia.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo returned to exhale a plan to relocate the state capital from DKI Jakarta, which currently functions not only as a central government, but also at the heart of the national economy. The Widodo’s plan is delivering in a limited meeting with the Ministers at the Presidential Palace on Monday (04/29).

The discourse of moving the capital was once exhaled by President Soekarno in 1957, and from its presidency afterwards, the discourse continued to be echoed even though there were no final political decisions. President Widodo has not yet formed a hammer to determine the strategic location to become the new capital of the country.

Given the condition of density, the decreasing carrying capacity of the environment such as frequent flooding, decreasing groundwater levels, congestion, lack of clean water and limited land, this discourse should receive a positive response from the entire community.

The value of losses due to crowded in the Jakarta-Bogor-Depok-Tangerang-Bekasi (Jabodetabek) zones which reached Rp65 trillion per year was also a consideration of the relocation plan.

According to 2018 Indonesia Statistics data, the Jabodetabek region contributes 20.85 percent and Java Island contributes 58.49 percent of national GDP. While the population of Jakarta in 2016 is approximately 4 percent of the population of Indonesia but if you take into account the population of Jabodetabek the proportion is 10 percent. The population of Java itself is currently at 150 million or around 57 percent of the total population of Indonesia.

However, there are at least three alternatives offered regarding the plan to move the capital city, including: first, establishing a permanent Government District in Jakarta, which is around the Jakarta palace, as happened in Vientiane (Laos), Jurong Gateway (Singapore), Pudong (Shanghai ) and Hafen City (Hamburg).

Second, move the capital to an area near Jakarta with a distance of 50-70 km, as happened in Putrajaya (Malaysia), Kotte (Sri Lanka), and New Kabul (Afghanistan).

Finally, move the capital out of Java, namely to near eastern Indonesia, as happened in other countries, such as Brazil (Brazil), Sejong (Korea), Canberra (Australia), Washington DC (USA), Islamabad (Pakistan), Astana (Kazakhstan), and Naypidyaw (Myanmar).

Of the three choices, President Widodo was more interested in moving the capital city out of Java and had to be in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago, in addition to facilitating access from all provinces, but also to encourage equitable distribution between the Western and Eastern Indonesia.

This discourse is deemed necessary because technically and the strategy has more value than just maintaining Jakarta as the center of Indonesian government activities. In addition to reducing the burden of Jakarta and Jabodetabek, the relocation of the capital is important to reduce the gap and encourage equitable development to the eastern part of Indonesia, which has often been ignored.

More important than that, this relocation can change the development mind-set from Java-centric to Indonesia-centric, where Jakarta and Java are no longer considered dominant in government and business activities, so those players must spread more to all corners of the country.

With congestion conditions that are almost unraveled, the relocation of the capital can improve the management of an efficient and effective central government by applying the concepts of smart, green, and beautiful city to increase competitiveness regionally and internationally.

However, there are several criteria in determining a new location, where the location must be strategic, both geographically and the potential of natural and human resources; available extensive land owned by the Government to reduce investment costs; and land must be free from earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, erosion, and forest and peatland fires.

In addition, there are also sufficient water resources and free of environmental pollution; close to the existing city that has developed for the efficiency of the initial infrastructure investment; mobility/logistics access: airports, ports and roads; the potential for low social conflict and an open culture towards migrants; and meet the defense and security perimeter.

Based on these criteria and requirements, one of the most potential candidates to be named as the new capital of Indonesia, as President Widodo’s wishes, is Kalimantan. Apart from being right in the middle of the Indonesian territory and the Equator line, Kalimantan has so far been safe from natural disasters, both volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, to name a few major disasters.

The only potential disaster there is flooding and forest and peatland fires. But even then it has been rehabilitated since 2015 after a severe fire that hit the region which caused a loss of Rp221 trillion.

With its geographical location as the ring of fire, Sumatra, Bali and West Nusa Tenggara, it is impossible to be included as the capital’s candidate again, because these areas are exactly on the path of disaster, both volcanoes and tsunamis. Likewise, some parts of Java that are already densely populated and within the next 20 years are estimated to be seriously threatened because of land subsidence.

We know, the allocation of funds for the relocation of the capital ranges from Rp323 trillion to Rp466 trillion, equivalent to 3.14 percent of Indonesia’s GDP in 2018. This figure is actually smaller than the government debt to build Jabodetabek integrated-transportation projects worth Rp571 trillion.

Therefore, the planned relocation of the capital must be part of the government’s priority plan supported by strong commitment, participation of all stakeholders, and cohesive and solid mega-project institutions.

Even though it is considered to impose the State Budget and the risk of operational disruption of government activities, this relocation must be considered as the nation’s grand plan to develop itself to be better in the future. There is no change if we never start to try to build it from scratch.

The reason that the Kalimantan region as a new capital candidate does not yet have adequate infrastructure is deemed not rational, because the development is something that is added or that accompanies administrative readiness for an official capital.

Therefore, if the government is truly serious and sets a strong commitment in deciding its political policies, then in the span of 5-10 years, the design of the development of the state capital will undoubtedly be carried out, provided that it is in depth and measurable, and takes steps to minimize the smallest maybe the risk of failure.

Written by Daniel Deha, Email: daniel@theinsiderstories.com