A new capital for Indonesia as Jokowi's huge legacy: what does it bring?
Soon the government will not be operating in Jakarta, but in the jungle on Borneo. The new Indonesian capital, Nusantara, is under construction.
Indonesia is building a new capital: Nusantara
“Plaza Legislatif” and “Office President” are written on roadside signs. They point to the steel structures that will soon become government buildings. When the sun rises, trucks kick up red dust. When the monsoon winds blow, they spray the muddy ground. Nusantara's construction site is located in the tropics, not far from the equator.
In the middle of all this is a huge building in the shape of a Garuda, a mythical bird that represents the national symbol of Indonesia's unity. It is the presidential palace mega project that is the vision of President Joko Widodo. He wants to open it on August 17, Indonesia's Independence Day.
Erwin Sayah walks through the construction site in all-red uniform. He is responsible for security around the concert site. He says: “God willing, we will be ready, and the challenge is to prepare everything well for the president.”
With Nusantara, President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, wants to permanently change Indonesia's political and economic structure. The new capital aims to relieve pressure on current Jakarta and create a second economic and political pole that does not exist on the densely populated island of Java. In short: more power from center to periphery. The estimated area is approximately the size of canton Ticino.
A small gallery presents Nusantara in the year 2045: a city in the jungle, reforested, with flying taxis, all organized and regulated by computers equipped with artificial intelligence. The plan includes ministries, universities, hotels and many others.
Only a little of that remains. Agung Wikaksono quickly leads investors from construction site to construction site. “The city will be like Washington, D.C., in the center, and like Dubai on the outside,” he says. Nusantara will cost at least 30 billion Swiss francs. The government only wants to pay a fifth of this amount itself. So far, interest from private investors has been low.
However, Agung is optimistic: “Jokowi can implement this vision for generations, and in 2045 this city will be alive and loved by everyone.” But Jokowi will have to step down soon after ten years in office. Indonesia is scheduled to elect a new president on February 14. In the election campaign, voices are now being raised questioning the meaning of this huge project.
“Redistribution of funds”
One of the harshest critics is sociology professor Solfekir Amir. He is a member of the campaign team of rival candidate Anies Baswedan. Salva Kiir believes President Jokowi is building his own legacy with the city. “Nusantara is not a real city, it is an amusement park,” he says. When talking to a sociology professor, words like “crazy” and “stupid” come up. If his candidate wins, he will stop building. “We want to redistribute the money and invest in 40 other cities in Indonesia,” he says.
Workers in Nusantara build through the night. Construction cranes glow red and white, the colors of the Indonesian flag. time is short. It is certain that the Garuda Pavilions, which tower over the palace, will not be ready on opening day.
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