Is Indonesia Moving its Capital City Soon?

Is Indonesia Moving its Capital City Soon?

Indonesian government plans by the end of the year to finish assessing potential alternative cities that could become Indonesia’s new capital.

National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) head Bambang Brodjonegoro said that the government was determined to move the Indonesian capital out of Java. He said Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan was one of the options. “It has to be outside Java,” Bambang said . “The final decision will come within this year”. The government included Palangkaraya on the list because former president Soekarno had planned to move the capital city there.

Jakarta is the world’s second-largest urban area and has one of its fastest-growing economies, but the only way to expand is to go up or under — and under is restricted by sinking sediment.

Jakarta traffic |
Jakarta traffic |


After decades of inaction, the Indonesian and Jakarta governments have launched overlapping projects: a metro system, light rail, 900 new buses this year, an electronic road toll pricing system, an airport link, flyovers, six road corridors and limits on motorcycles.

Yet even the most optimistic estimates suggest those projects will reduce Jakarta’s traffic by just 30 per cent. The plan to shift Indonesia’s financial and ­administrative centre outside Jakarta has been raised and shelved numerous times for decades, but the idea is back on the table and has supporters. Shifting the country’s ministries, parliament and all 140 state-owned enterprises could be the simplest solution. 

“The biggest state-owned companies, like Pertamina and PLN, have tens of thousands of employees. If they were to move their headquarters also,” it would significantly reduce traffic, says Dono Boestami, who is in charge of building a rapid mass-transit metro system for Greater Jakarta. 

Palangkaraya, now serves as the capital city of Central Kalimantan province |
Palangkaraya, now serves as the capital city of Central Kalimantan province |


A proposal to move the Indonesian capital city from Jakarta to other locations has been discussed since the Sukarno presidency, and even earlier during Dutch colonial era. In fact, in early 20th century there was an effort by Dutch East Indies government to relocate the capital from Batavia (colonial Jakarta) to Bandung. In 2010s, the idea to relocate the national capital or administrative center has been revisited, mainly because of Jakarta's environmental degradation and overpopulation problems. Bandung, the planned capital of Dutch colonial era however, was ruled out, since the capital of West Java province itself is currently overpopulated and suffering ecological breakdown.

Maja City, 40 km away |
Maja City, 40 km away |


There are three major alternative approach about the new capital proposal:

  1. Move the national capital altogether by creating a completely new planned city, similar to the way that Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, a planned city, in 1960.
  2. Create a separate administrative center and keep Jakarta as the official capital, in same fashion like Malaysia moved the federal administrative center to Putrajaya.
  3. Keep Jakarta as both capital and administrative center, just like Tokyo for Japan.

Since the idea was launched, numbers of provincial regional governments, governors and regents, has expressed their interest to be the host of the new capital. These are some options on the approach to create a new national capital:

If the first option to create a completely new capital away from Jakarta would be chosen, then the island of Kalimantan is considered as a suitable location. The island is vast and away from Indonesian tectonic convergent boundary, which means it is relatively safe from earthquake and volcanic eruption.

The suggested locations include:

  1. Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Since it was established as the capital of Central Kalimantan province in 1957, the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, outlined a plan to develop Palangkaraya as the future capital of Indonesia. Palangkaraya is far larger in area than Jakarta and safe from the danger of earthquakes and volcanoes, common on the island of Java.
  2. Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. Compared to Palangkaraya, Banjarmasin is located closer to the center of the country, has better access to the Java Sea and has better infrastructure.
  3. Kota Merdeka is a proposed planned city located north of Pangkalan Bun town, West Kotawaringin Regency, Central Kalimantan. Compared to far inland Palangkaraya, Kota Merdeka is located nearer to coastal areas and has better access to Java Sea.
  4. Pontianak, West Kalimantan. Located perfectly on equator and strategically located by Karimata Strait and South China Sea, in the same region with other ASEAN capitals such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bandar Seri Begawan. Despite its strategic location, the proposal is criticized for its proximity to Malaysian border and disputed areas in South China Sea.
  5. Between Balikpapan and Samarinda, East Kalimantan. According to East Kalimantan Governor, Awang Faroek Ishak, East Kalimantan possess all requirements to be Indonesia's new capital. The region is located right in the center of Indonesia, by Makassar Strait which has become Indonesia's second main maritime passage, connecting Indonesia to East Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Japan and Australia. Endowed with rich natural resources, especially timber, coal, oil and liquid natural gas, East Kalimantan has natural and financial resources to built infrastructure befitting a new Indonesian capital.
  6. Palembang, South Sumatra. The city has historical significance, as the former capital of Srivijaya maritime empire; which symbolyze the return of archipelago's former glory. It also strategically located near main maritime route of Malacca Strait, near other ASEAN capitals of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.  Nevertheless, the plan is criticized for its geographic location in the west that is not the center of the archipelago, and its proximity to Malaysian and Singaporean borders.

New administrative center:
If Jakarta is kept as the official capital, and the administrative centers would be moved to other location not far from Jakarta, the suggested locations include:

  1. Jonggol, West Java. Dubbed as the most realistic option to move the capital city, Jonggol is located just 40 kilometres southeast from Jakarta, and has become a planned future capital of Indonesia since the era of Soeharto presidency. Jonggol is located in the province of West Java, a neighbouring province of Jakarta.
  2. Karawang, West Java, located about 60 kilometres east of Jakarta.[21]
    Kertajati, Majalengka Regency, West Java. Located about 200 kilometres east of Jakarta and 40 kilometres west of Cirebon. The proposed planned capital will be connected to planned West Java new airport, Java railways and Trans-Java toll road.
  3. Maja, Lebak Regency, Banten. Located about 60 kilometres west of Jakarta. Most of Maja lands are already acquired by government
  4. Jakarta Bay, North Jakarta. This plan is actually do not move the capital away from Jakarta, but adding lands north of Jakarta by reclaiming new islands in Jakarta Bay. In 2013, Joko Widodo, then Governor of Jakarta, once proposed to move the administrative center of Indonesia to the planned future reclamated islands in Jakarta Bay. This plan is inline with the planned National Capital Integrated Coastal Development; the new administrative district will be located on Garuda bird-shaped island planned to be built on Jakarta Bay.

So, what do you think?

Source and reference :

Dino Fanara (2006). Angel of the East Indies: Biography of the Van Dooremolen Family

Silver, Christopher (2007). Planning the Megacity: Jakarta in the Twentieth Century - Planning, History and Environment Series.

"History of Jakarta".

Hery H Winarno (20 April 2016). "Cerita Jokowi ingin pindahkan Ibu Kota di pulau reklamasi". Merdeka (in Indonesian).

The Jakarta Post : Indonesia studies new sites for capital city

The Australian : Indonesia mulls moving capital to escape gridlock


Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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