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Indonesia moving its capital to avoid sinking into ocean. Is this also Miami’s future?

PortandTerminal.com, September 30, 2019

The Indonesian capital of Jakarta is home to 10 million people and is the fastest-sinking city in the world. Parts of the megacity could be entirely submerged by 2050. The crisis has forced the government to begin relocating the capital to a new location almost 900 miles away.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – Earlier this month, we ran an article about Miami’s battle with rising sea levels and whether the crisis might ultimately force PortMiami to relocate one day to drier ground.

Click here to read the full story from PortandTerminal.com

In this article we’ll look at a city where the worst-case scenario is already being confronted; Jakarta, Indonesia. Does Jakarta give us a snapshot of what may ultimately happen in Miami?

What’s happening in Jakarta?

A man walks next to an abandoned submerged mosque in northern Jakarta, beside a giant sea wall to keep the water flooding more of the city. Experts warn much of the city could be submerged by 2050. 

Jakarta, which is home to 10 million people, has been suffering from extreme land subsidence for decades. The northern part of the city has sunk by 8 feet (2.5 metres) in the past 10 years, and research shows some areas could be entirely submerged by 2050.

Jakarta’s city centre flooded

Jakarta is simultaneously sinking due to the over-tapping of groundwater supplies and being flooded because of rapidly rising sea-levels.

Almost half of the city is already below sea level and flooding is frequent, thanks to the 13 rivers that run through it. Jakarta also has the worst traffic congestion of any city on the planet.

Jakartans spend 22 days in traffic jam per year on average

The day of climate change reckoning is not some distant date in the future for Jakarta. The day of climate change reckoning has come today for Indonesia’s capital.

The crisis has forced the government to abandon the overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta and relocate Indonesia’s capital to a sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo island, known for rainforests and orangutans.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced in August that the government will begin relocating its capital from Jakarta to eastern Borneo to avoid unmanageable and rapidly escalating environmental problems, according to CNN.  

The new location will be 870 miles away to the northeast in the East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, a region of dense jungle that will have to be cleared to accommodate potentially millions of people and massive industrial activity. The cost of building the new capital city is estimated to be $US 33 billion and construction will take 10 years. There are no plans however to relocate the population of Jakarta to the new capital.

The administration of President Joko Widodo, widely known throughout the country as Jokowi, chose the new location partly because it’s less vulnerable to natural disasters, he said in a statement.

“We have to find a location that is really minimal in terms of disaster risks and because Indonesia is a maritime nation, the new capital city should be located near the coast, but not necessarily by the sea.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

“As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital,” Jokowi said in a televised speech, CNN notes. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade, and services.”

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