Indonesia Mulls $10.5b Sea Wall Project To Save Sinking Jakarta

Indonesia is reviving its plan to build a massive sea wall, aiming to protect its capital city Jakarta from sinking more rapidly. This initiative involves three construction phases extending beyond 2040.

The initial two phases will require 164 trillion rupiah (approximately $10.5 billion), as stated by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto on Wednesday. The cost for the final phase remains unspecified.

The concept of a sea wall has been considered for over a decade. Its importance has been reemphasized as Jakarta is now the world’s fastest-sinking megacity.

According to Hartarto, Jakarta is sinking up to 25 centimeters annually, while tidal floods are increasing by up to 200cm each year.

Jakarta, with over 10 million residents on Java Island, has experienced areas sinking by up to four meters from 1997 to 2005. Experts warn that without intervention, one-third of the capital might be underwater by 2050.

Coastal flooding in Jakarta currently causes annual losses of 2.1 trillion rupiah, which could escalate to 10 trillion rupiah within a decade.

To slow down the sinking, Indonesia has limited groundwater extraction and is advancing the development of Nusantara, a new $34-billion capital city on Borneo Island.

With the upcoming presidential election on February 14, it is uncertain if the successor to President Joko Widodo, ineligible for a third term, will continue this extensive infrastructure project.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, a leading presidential candidate stated “The problem facing this sea wall is that it needs around 40 years to be completed.”

“The problem is whether political leaders have the focus, the thinking and the ability to see through the project. This is our responsibility.”