Stuck, polluted urging the Philippines, Indonesia to relocate the capital

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The plan to move the capital to other places was made by the Philippines and Indonesia, but there was a lot of controversy about logistics.

As a banker working in Manila, Jolu Bunda takes 4 hours a day to work and return. He enlisted to work early from 5 am to avoid the rush hour and leave the office as soon as possible after the shift ends 12 hours later.

“Too stressful, but I have to make sure to leave on time to find a good seat on the bus. I’m worried about going out in the evening. I need to go home as soon as possible and go to bed at 10pm,” Bunda said .

Bunda has felt the infrastructure tension caused by economic growth and urbanization in Manila for many years. The serious traffic jam in Manila is one of the reasons why Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is considering a plan to relocate the capital to a new place.

Duterte is not the only leader in the area who sees the removal of the capital as a simultaneous solution to many major problems. Indonesian President Joko Widodo also announced a plan to relocate the capital from Jakarta.

Manila is home to 13 million people, according to the latest population statistics, but this number has increased to about 15 million during the day when workers from the suburbs flock to the capital to work.

Every day, Filipinos lose 3.5 billion pesos (68.2 million USD) due to traffic congestion in the capital, according to estimates of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). If the problem is not controlled, the daily damage is expected to increase to 5.3 billion pesos per day by 2035.

While highway construction projects and additional railroads are underway in Manila, the Philippine government still aims to establish a new urban area called New Clark City, 100 miles from Manila. km to the north.

Clark Real Estate Development Company and Military Base Transformation and Development (BCDA) of the Philippine Presidential Office hope the new city will attract government agencies and businesses to locate, leading to the formation of a new administrative capital like the administrative capital of Malaysia’s Putrajaya.

President Duterte “wants to spread growth outside the metropolitan area of ​​Manila and New Clark City is a clear demonstration of this desire,” said Vince Dizon, BCDA chief executive, last month.

New Clark City will be located on the defense land of 94.5 km2 in Capas in Tarlac province. About 40% of this area will be planned for infrastructure development, the rest will be reserved for agricultural land and trees.

Although Duterte did not specify the plan to relocate the administrative capital, Philippine Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez provided another reason to turn New Clark City into a new administrative center: Discomfort from muscle conditions. The government is spread throughout the metropolitan area of ​​Manila. For example, the Senate and the Philippine House are located 20 km apart, causing MPs to take more than an hour to travel between the two agencies.

“The government offices in Manila are scattered throughout the city. It is very inconvenient for people if they have to deal with many ministries because they have to travel from one place to another. It is reasonable to consider moving the center here “, Dominguez said during a visit to check the construction progress in New Clark.

The new city also gives Manila an essential competitor. In a report on urbanization in the Philippines in 2017, the World Bank noted the lack of viable alternative city options for businesses and people that contribute to serious traffic congestion. in the Manila capital when the country’s economy grows.

“The Manila capital along with surrounding urban areas is typical of urban agglomeration in the Philippines. The Philippine National Capital Region lacks medium-sized competitive cities,” the report said.

Cebu, the second largest metropolitan area in the Philippines, is home to nearly one-tenth of the country’s population. President Duterte has stopped approving new economic zones in the Manila metropolitan area to encourage investors to find other places in the country. However, the business process outsourcing industry (BPO), a lifeline of the Philippine economy, is opposing the new policy because it believes it will prevent new investors from coming to the Philippines.

“If they invest for the first time into the Philippines, they must first think about establishing a facility in Manila,” said Benedict Hernandez, president of the Philippine Call Center, implying that many investors want to feel the background. How the Philippine economy works by starting a business in Manila.

Even so, the Philippine government continues to build roads and railways connecting to New Clark city. And to promote the new city when the Philippines hosted the SEA Games in November, BCDA built here a stadium, a water sports complex and residential areas for athletes. Later, private and state companies wanted to run and maintain these This facility can participate in auction them.

New Clark, if successfully developed, can at least help reduce some of the pressure on Manila, the densest population city in the world. The overcrowded population in urban areas is a common problem in Asian countries, where 9 out of 10 cities have the highest population density in the world.

Jakarta is not on the list of the 10 most densely populated cities in the world, but the Indonesian capital is seriously polluted.

In early July, 31 people dressed in shirts printed with the words Aku & Polusi (Pollution and me) gathered in the central Jakarta district court. They came to file a lawsuit, demanding that the central government solve the problem of air pollution in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia. The defendants were included in the complaint including President Joko Widodo.

The plaintiffs asked the government to “proactively prepare plans to provide clean air as a basic human right”, Ayu Ezra Tiara, lawyer from Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, who represents the group. plaintiff, said.

“We must not be satisfied with immediate solutions such as setting up parking days, artificial spraying or raising taxes on cars with high levels of polluting emissions …” Tiara said.

A survey shows that Jakarta is the most polluted place in Southeast Asia, but for 30 million people residing in this metropolitan area, the problem of air pollution is only one of many concerns. they.

Declaration of excessive groundwater caused many large areas in Jakarta to subsidence to below sea level. Although the opening of the first metro line in Jakarta in March generated excitement, the general public transport service in the city was still incomplete, leading to a persistent traffic jam. Annual economic losses due to traffic jams in Jakarta are estimated at about 56,000 billion rupiah in 2013, equivalent to 3.9 billion USD, if calculated at the current exchange rate. Now that figure may have increased close to 100 trillion rupiah.

In April, President Widodo announced a plan to relocate the capital. “At present, Jakarta has two heavy duties at the same time as the center of public services and the government is both a commercial center. Can the city be able to continue to undertake these tasks in the future? “he said.

Widodo targets Kalimantan, an area of ​​Borneo Island, as the “top candidate” to set up a new administrative center. Although Jakarta is still the economic center of the country, President Widodo said that the plan to relocate the capital would encourage growth outside Java Island, where the city is located.

Since Indonesia declared independence in 1945, excessive centralized development plans on Java and Jakarta alone accounted for 17% of Indonesia’s total economy. This is roughly equal to the total contribution of the cities of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua, Maluku, Bali and Nusa Tenggara to the national economy every year. President Widodo hopes the capital city initiative will boost infrastructure and service investment in the eastern part of the country, preventing “brain drain” in underdeveloped provinces when people flock to it. about Java.

“The relocation of the capital is a way for Widodo to really prove that the development model focused on Java must cease. The introduction of the administrative center to Kalimantan will open up development opportunities for eastern Indonesia.” Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, political professor from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, commented.

However, experts say both Widodo and Duterte will face a bumpy long road ahead. The Indonesian president also acknowledged the process of relocating the capital will take time and is very expensive.

Widodo’s predecessors such as Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president after the country declared independence, had considered relocating the capital but ended up deadlocked due to lack of financial resources, logistical difficulties and changes. government. But now is the right time to relocate the capital when Widodo has gathered great political power after winning the general election earlier this year.

Indonesia’s Ministry of National Planning and Development said the private sector will assume three-quarters of the estimated total cost of 466 trillion rupiah ($ 33.3 billion) of the plan to relocate the capital through measures such as private partnership. But skepticism with plans to relocate the capital in Indonesia and the Philippines is still huge.

Urban planner Paulo Alcazaren from PGAA design firm Creative Design said relocating government agencies and personnel from the metropolitan Manila would be a “logistical nightmare”. Instead of relocating the capital, he said, the Duterte administration may consider establishing a storage center and a backup facility to cope in the event of a serious disaster occurring in the current capital.

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