Borneo’s East Kalimantan province has been announced as the location of Indonesia’s new capital city.
Indonesia President Joko Widodo has revealed East Kalimantan, a sparsely populated area of Borneo, will replace Jakarta as the country’s capital city after the government determined it to be the most suitable choice, according to ABC News.
Officials reportedly say they want the new capital to be a “smart city in the forest”, with 180,000 hectares of public land set aside for an expected $44 billion build, mostly funded by private investment, and land acquisition beginning next year.
“It is a strategic location at the centre of Indonesia, close to growing urban areas,” Widodo said, in quotes obtained by ABC News, adding the risk of natural disaster in the region was low.
Widodo added that the area had already had relatively complete infrastructure, being close to the Bornean cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.
Environmentalists have voiced concerns the move will hasten the destruction of forests and increase levels of pollution in the area, but Widodo said the risk of natural disaster in the area was very low.
This comes after the Indonesian President revealed earlier this year the country’s capital city would be moved from Jakarta, noting that the idea to move had “appeared long ago”.
Construction of the new capital is reportedly expected to begin in 2021, with residents marked to move to the site as close as 2024.
Statistics gathered by Indonesia’s Central Bureau in 2016 state that Jakarta is home to a population of nearly 10 million people, and its has been predicted that the current capital will run out of water by 2040.
The greater metropolitan area is home to an estimated 30 million people and is heavily polluted and overcrowded. The city is also one of the fastest sinking cities in the world, with a report published by the BBC last year stating that parts of the city could be submerged by 2050.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Indonesia is the fourth most heavily populated country in the world – with a population of more than 260 million people.
Widodo said the decision was made to leave Java because the country’s wealth and people were highly concentrated on the island and should be spread out, according to ABC News.
“We couldn’t continue to allow the burden on Jakarta and Java island to increase in terms of population density,” he said.
“Economic disparities between Java and elsewhere would also increase.”