Trip Report: Jakarta construction update
Part 1: A summary of the big construction projects in the city that, contrary to media reports, is not being abandoned
The last time I was in Jakarta was in September 2019, which was about one month after President Joko Widodo announced that the capital would move to Borneo. In the four years since that announcement, there have been numerous articles that are framing the story that Jakarta is being abandoned. In my mind’s eye, Jakarta had become a lost city where people were just biding their time waiting to leave.
There are so many of these stories that they take on a life of its own, to the point that the entire city of 10 million people is being moved. For the record, Jakarta is not being abandoned. It does though have enormous challenges such as traffic, pollution, and the double whammy of a sinking city next to a rising sea.
There is nothing like a boots-on-the-ground trip to get a feel for what is really happening. My visit reminded me that Jakarta is still the overwhelming economic and cultural engine room of Indonesia. It continues to draw young people from the provinces, even while the politicians and bureaucrats are preparing to move to Nusantara.
My last visit to Jakarta was around the time of the student protests against a new criminal code. Some cynical pundits have suggested that moving the capital will mean that the politicians and bureaucrats won’t have to see the protests in their daily lives.
There are many construction projects underway, and the transport system is also being expanded. For example, here is the construction site of the Oasis Central Sudirman in Central Jakarta. This does not look like a city that is being abandoned.
I had timed my trip to see the opening of the high-speed railway and new LRT line, but both of those lines were delayed. My original plan was to arrive in Jakarta and get the train out. Instead, I had nearly two weeks to have a good look around the city. This was the longest I have spent in Jakarta in one trip, and it allowed me to explore some other areas that I haven’t been to. I stumbled into beautiful leafy neighbourhoods that you never see in the “Jakarta is doomed” news articles.
– Try telling the people living here that they are being moved to the jungle of Borneo –
This article is the first in a series of Jakarta posts. The next post will be about the future transit system, and the following article will be about the problems that Jakarta faces and how to fix them.
This trip report is a construction summary of Jakarta in August 2023.