Palangkaraya, by any standards, is not well-known outside Indonesia.
But the city on the island of Borneo is quickly becoming a newsmaker after experts started debating the concept of relocating the nation’s capital following a government official’s statement that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ordered a feasibility study.
Bambang Brodjonegoro, chief of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), told journalists in Jakarta on Tuesday that he had been instructed by the president to conduct a study regarding moving the capital from Jakarta.
Brodjonegoro declined to elaborate but said the president cited a number of reasons for considering the move, including issues related to infrastructure, flooding and congestion.
As the controversy about the possible move swirled in Jakarta, Widodo skirted issuing a direct statement confirming his plans.
“I will explain it when the time comes,” the Jakarta-based Republika website quoted him as saying on Tuesday.
But on Thursday Widodo broke his silence by issuing a Twitter message.
“Discourses about the relocation of the state capital are now still in the analysis phase,” Widodo said. “Deep calculations are necessary so as to guarantee that the relocation will be really beneficial.”
While officials have not confirmed the location of the possible new political and administrative hub, government sources told BenarNews that Palangkaraya, the capital city of Central Kalimantan province in Borneo, would be the top candidate.
“None has confirmed Palangkaraya. There are some candidates,” Brodjonegoro told BenarNews. “Right now our team still analyses the criteria of the area and the land availability.”
He said the feasibility study, including budget estimates, is targeted for completion by the end of this year.
Palangkaraya has a population of about 240,000, according to a 2014 census.
It is in Kalimantan, the largest island in Indonesia and since the 1950s government officials have been eyeing it as a frontrunner to become Indonesia’s future capital, a potential replacement to the congested and flood-prone Jakarta, home to about 30 million people.
Former President Sukarno started the initiative to sever links with Indonesia’s colonial past by potentially moving the capital out of Jakarta, which was known as Batavia during Dutch rule.
Full story: BenarNews
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