Indonesia is building a sea wall to save sinking Jakarta

Indonesia is building a sea wall to save sinking Jakarta

Plans to build a sea wall to prevent the rapid sinking of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, have begun.

The project will require three phases of construction. The first two phases will require 164.1 trillion rupiah (S$14.04 billion) in financing, Economic Affairs Coordinating Minister Airlanga Hartarto said at an event in Jakarta on Jan 10. The construction of the third phase of the sea wall project will begin in 2040.

He did not say how much money would be required for the third phase.

It’s an idea that’s been discussed for more than a decade, and the proposal to build a sea wall has recently gained momentum as Jakarta quickly becomes a sinking megacity.

While the capital sinks about 25 centimeters a year, tides rise up to 200 centimeters a year, Hartarto said.

Jakarta, home to more than 10 million people on the island of Java, saw some areas sink as much as 4 meters between 1997 and 2005. Experts predict that by 2050, a third of the capital could be submerged uncontrollably.

Flooding in coastal Jakarta was estimated to cause annual losses of 2.1 trillion rupiah, rising to 10 trillion rupiah annually in the next decade.

To slow the sinking and ease pressure on Jakarta, Indonesia has restricted groundwater extraction and created a US$34 billion (S$45 billion) capital city called Nusantara, a jungle in Borneo.

Indonesia will elect a new leader on February 14, and it remains to be seen whether President Joko Widodo’s successor will pursue a massive infrastructure project.

“It’s about 40 years to complete this sea wall,” Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who is leading voter surveys for the presidential election, said at the launch of the sea wall project.

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