Nusantara: Indonesia’s Hope For A New And Prosperous Capital City

Man rides his cart in Indeonesian streets

Southeast Asia’s largest city is Jakarta. The city is sinking at the quickest rate in history. It is currently the capital of Indonesia, but not for much longer. Overcrowding, floods, and endemic pollution are quite common problems. The country loses $5 billion a year in economic output just from severe traffic. Simply described, it is a poorly planned city with issues stemming from its former Dutch colonial era.

On the island of Borneo, a new capital is being constructed as the government’s response. It goes by the name of Nusantara and is marketed as a progressive green city.

We must first understand what is taking place in the nation’s current capital in order to comprehend the vision for a new one. Some sections of Jakarta are sinking up to 25 cm annually. By 2050, according to some experts, the city will be under water. Deep wells provide more than 60% of its water, and flooding during typhoons happens frequently. Another major, unsolvable challenge for the city is land subsidence.

Moving the capital is not a new idea. The concept has been around for a while. The projected 33 billion dollar plan to create the new metropolis on the east coast of Borneo was ultimately approved by President Widodo in 2019. The relocation will allow the capital to tap into easier accesses of land and water resources. Nickel is one of those resources that is expected to boost the country’s economic standing.

Unfortunately, this move is expected to affect over 20,000 indigenous people who live in the area. Small livelihoods, farmers, and local economies that benefit from the natural state of the region will be at a loss. Experts believe that the deforestation allotted for the new metropolis can negatively impact the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem. 

Locals who are fearful of this development have reason to believe that they will be at a disadvantage once the crowds from Jakarta starts pouring in. But most Indonesians are still hopeful for the bright future it promises. It will take a few more decades to truly say that Nusantara is a success.