Sinking Jakarta Urgently Needs Giant Sea Wall For Its Protection
Jul 30, 2019

Indonesia’s sinking capital Jakarta, home to about ten million people, as soon as possible needs a sea wall to prevent getting submerged, the country’s President Joko Widodo told AP in an interview.

Widodo said that speedy construction of such a wall is necessary to push through the slow-moving and politically contested mega project which the government first began to consider a decade ago. He noted that forecast imply that at the current rate of sinking, one-third of Jakarta could be submerged by 2050.

Jakarta has been described as one of the world’s fastest sinking cities – a result of geographic misfortune and mismanagement. The city sits on swampy ground, with 13 heavily polluted rivers running through it.

The existential crisis facing the city is the culmination of decades of unobstructed development, almost nonexistent urban planning and ignorance by city politicians who have served private interests over those of the public.

Lacking a comprehensive piped water network, industry and homeowners have tapped into the city’s aquifers, causing rapid subsidence in northern Jakarta, home to several million people. In this area, the swampy ground has been sinking at an average of about ten centimeters a year, even as much as 25 centimeters a year in some parts which is more than double the global average for coastal mega cities. Overall, North Jakarta has sunk 2.5 meters in years.

The main cause for the sinking is the over-extraction of groundwater. The weight of taller buildings being constructed in recent years further compresses the ground. Rising sea levels from a heated-up planet will increase the problem further in decades to come.

An existing wall along the shore is currently protecting the area’s makeshift shacks against the waters of the Java Sea, but the concrete barrier – raised and reinforced after a major flood more than a decade ago – has developed cracks.

Jakarta is not the only city that it is sinking, however. Others facing the problem are – albeit partly for different reasons – Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Shanghai, Osaka, Dhaka, Mumbai, Calcutta, New Orleans, Houston, Lagos, Alexandria, Venice, Rotterdam and even London.