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Jakarta to Build Giant Sea Wall to Stop City Sinking Into Sea

Last Friday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned that in order to stop the country's capital from sinking into the sea, a giant wall surrounding the city must be built quickly.

According to The Independent, northern areas of Jakarta have sunk four meters below sea level at an estimated rate of 20 centimeters each year.

The government has been mulling the ambitious and politically challenging project for over a decade, yet President Widodo's recent comments stressed its urgency. The mega project is expected to cost around US$41.2 billion.

One-third of Jakarta is predicted to be underwater by 2050. Experts claim that perennial infrastructure problems, such as the development of skyscrapers on marshy lands, non-existent urban planning, and corruption are to blame for the issue, along with rising sea levels.

Another factor causing northern Jakarta's rapid collapse is the lack of a comprehensive water network, which has caused the city's natural underground water supplies to deteriorate.

Natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes also contribute to Jakarta's vulnerability. Muara Baru, a waterfront slum in the north of the city, is the most exposed to threats.

"95 percent of northern Jakarta will sink below sea levels by 2050 if the decline rate continues," Heri Andreas, an earth scientist at Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology, told the news source. He also stated that it would take some time for Indonesian government officials to take his warnings seriously.

The proposed wall, known as the 'Great Garuda,' is a bird-shaped wall reminiscent of Indonesia’s national symbol. The first stage of the project involves strengthening 30 kilometers of existing coastal dams, followed by the construction of 17 artificial islands and a giant sea wall across Jakarta Bay.

A major setback of the project, however, is the US$41.2 billion price tag, as well as fears for the local fishing industry. In response, Andreas suggested to the newspaper a budget-friendly version of 'Great Garuda' comprised of a 20-kilometer wall stretching across only the most vulnerable parts of the bay. This would represent a more affordable alternative for the government, but local fishermen still fear it would put them out of business.

[Top image via Straits Times

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