Indonesia has decided to move its capital from Jakarta, the sprawling megacity of 10 million people on Java island, to Bandung, a smaller but more dynamic city in West Java province. The parliament approved the bill to relocate the capital in January 2023, after years of debate and planning.
The main reason for the move is to address Jakarta’s chronic problems of congestion, pollution, flooding and subsidence. Jakarta is one of the most densely populated and traffic-choked cities in the world, with an average commute time of over an hour. It also suffers from poor air quality, frequent floods and land subsidence due to excessive groundwater extraction. Some parts of Jakarta are sinking by up to 25 centimeters per year and could be submerged by 2050.
Bandung, on the other hand, offers a more livable and sustainable environment for Indonesia’s new capital. Bandung is located about 140 kilometers southeast of Jakarta, on a plateau surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. It has a cooler climate, a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant creative economy. Bandung is also home to some of Indonesia’s top universities and research institutes, as well as many start-ups and innovation hubs.
Another reason for the move is to boost Indonesia’s economic development and regional integration. By relocating the capital to Bandung, Indonesia hopes to reduce its dependence on Java island, which accounts for more than half of its population and GDP. It also aims to strengthen its connectivity with other parts of Indonesia and Southeast Asia through infrastructure projects such as highways, railways and airports.
One of these projects is the high-speed rail line linking Jakarta and Bandung, which is expected to be completed by June 2023. The project is funded by China as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and will cut travel time between the two cities from three hours to 40 minutes. The project will also spur urban development along the corridor and create new economic opportunities for both cities.