See More on Facebook

Analysis, Environment

Jakarta sinking fast: Experts

Changes must be made or the city faces massive changes within a decade.


Written by

Updated: December 6, 2018

More than a quarter of Jakarta’s 661.52 square kilometers will be submerged by water in less than a decade, as the sprawling capital will continue to sink rapidly if no significant measures are taken to ensure the survival of the city, experts have warned.

Seawater could cover as much as 26.86 percent of Jakarta by 2025 and if this trend continues, 35.61 percent of the city will be completely submerged, according to a study by the geodesy research division of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

“North Jakarta alone could be 90 percent underwater by 2050,” a member of the team Heri Andreas told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The city’s looming submergence, according to the study, was not primarily caused by rising sea levels but by the sinking of city itself.

ITB’s research into land subsidence from 1925 to 2015 showed that significant land subsidence began in 1975, with North Jakarta the worst affected area. Land in Marunda and Cilincing had sunk 1.5 meters by 2015. Kelapa Gading has reportedly sunk by up to 2.4 m, while the worst affected area, Pluit, has sunk up to 4 m.

Like many other global cities in the world, overuse of ground water has served as the leading cause of Jakarta’s problem.

The issue was also highlighted by a study conducted by the University of Indonesia’s (UI) math and sciences department.

UI geophysicist Syamsu Rosid said that recently published 4D microgravity research of Jakarta’s soil revealed an alarming rate of land subsidence, especially in North Jakarta. The method registers land subsidence by recording the gravitational strength of an area over the course of four years from 2014 to 2018.

“The research shows the most affected area is on Jakarta’s coast, as North Jakarta is sinking approximately 11 centimeters per year because of human activities, especially over exploitation of groundwater,” he told the Post, adding that it could affect the stability of buildings and infrastructure in addition to increasing the risk of tidal flooding as the land was now under sea level.

Jakarta’s piped-water service only covers 60 percent of the capital, according to data from Jakarta tap water company PAM Jaya. That means the remaining 40 percent of the city relies on groundwater.

Poorly enforced regulations have also led to excessive illegal groundwater use, and not only by residents. Data from the Jakarta Industrial and Energy Agency show that 4,231 commercial buildings, such as hotels and offices, in the city still use groundwater.

Besides the uncontrolled usage of groundwater, land subsidence has also been aggravated by a lack of green spaces, as concrete and asphalt prevents the absorption of water into the soil. As Jakarta is crossed by 13 rivers, the city’s soil is also made up of alluvium, or sediment, deposited by rivers, which is loose and susceptible to erosion.

“Looking at those factors, we really urge the city administration to reevaluate its spatial plan (RTRW),” Syamsu said adding that all parties needed to follow the designated zones set in the RTRW.

North Jakarta is home to 1,696,015 residents, according to 2015 population data. In addition to being the area worst affected by land subsidence, it is also arguably the area where the socioeconomic gap between residents is the most apparent in the city, with slums only a stone’s throw away from elite gated communities like those in Pluit, Pantai Indah Kapuk and Kepala Gading. The country’s busiest port Tanjung Priok, as well as the city’s industrial areas are also located in North Jakarta.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had said that the city administration and central government had taken measures to prevent further land subsidence, including by continuing work on a sea wall as part of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) in Jakarta Bay to protect the city from tidal flooding. He also claimed the city had focused on expanding infiltration wells to help the soil better absorb rainwater.

Jakarta Industrial and Energy Agency acting head, Ricki Marojahan Mulia, said the agency had built up to 1,333 infiltration wells throughout the city, although he did not elaborate on how exactly expansion would continue given the city’s densely populated nature.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Jakarta Post
About the Author: The Jakarta Post is one of Indonesia's leading English-language daily newspapers.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Environment

A FAQ on Indian Elections

Asia News Network’s Ishan Joshi takes a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the Indian election. Termed the “biggest democratic exercise’ in the world, India’s mega election spans over a number of days and involves a significant percentage of the world’s population. Asia News Network Associate Editor Ishan Joshi takes a look at some of the most pressing questions as the elections continue in India.  Why do the Indian elections take so long? Primarily, because of the logistics involved in conducting elections in this continent-sized country. India has close to 900 million eligible voters spread across 29 states and 7 union territories. Some of these areas are battling armed Islamist/Maoist insurgencies, others are considered sensitive due to issues of social unrest/law and order, and all of them are robus


By Asia News Network
April 16, 2019

Analysis, Environment

When it comes to plastic pollution, name the brands, shame the brands

Southeast Asia’s addiction to plastic needs to end and it can’t end without engaging with brands. The standard narrative of the Southeast Asia plastic crisis has a puzzling blind spot. The typical story goes that consumers and governments shoulder all the blame—consumers for using and then tossing out too much plastic, and governments for not instituting adequate waste management systems. But that narrative obviously doesn’t tell the whole story. One example of this narrative: A 2015 McKinsey report that deals specifically with plastic contamination of the


By Quinn Libson
March 29, 2019

Analysis, Environment

Bangladesh will not relocate Rohingyas

Foreign minister says won’t relocate Rohingyas if stakeholders don’t agree. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday said Bangladesh would not relocate Rohingyas to Bashan Char, an island in Noakhali, if all concerned think that would be a problem for them. “We thought they [Rohingyas] will live there better,” he told reporters mentioning that the government had made big arrangements for Rohingyas in Bashan Char. The foreign minister was talking to reporters after jointly inaugurating “Demonstration and Introduction of STP (Set-Top) Boxes for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)” in Bangladesh Missions abroad with Information Minister Hasan Mahmud at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The foreign minister said the government had a plan to relocate around 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char on a voluntary basis in April next but now they did not know when it would take plac


By Daily Star
March 28, 2019

Analysis, Environment

Foreign companies eyeing stake in Malaysia Airlines

National carrier has been struggling since two high profile crashes in less than a year.   Several foreign companies, including from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, are keen to acquire a stake in Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), says the Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin. He said they do not necessarily take over the whole company, but may hold only part of the national carrier’s interest that is currently 100 percent owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd. “Alhamdulillah, those who are keen to buy MAB stocks are either from Asia, Europe and the Middle East. They have expressed their wish to the government and some have written to me. “They can do research on the company (MAB),” he said in an interview on TV3’s prime-time Buletin Utama on Monday (March 25) night. Daim said the aviation sector is increasingly complex and complicated, and huge funds and expertise ar


By The Star
March 26, 2019

Analysis, Environment

North Korea may have had core deciphering computers stolen

Computers may have been stolen during a break in in Spain. North Korean decryption computers may have been stolen from its embassy in Spain in last month’s raid by as-yet unidentified assailants, a high-profile North Korean defector claimed Sunday. Thae Yong-ho, a former deputy North Korean ambassador to UK said on his blog that the group of men who allegedly infiltrated the North Korean Embassy in Madrid may have stolen computers used to communicate with Pyongyang, which would be a harsh blow to the communist regime. “The world is reporting on the attack on the North Korean Embassy in Madrid, but North Korea has been keeping quiet over the incident for a month. I believe this is because they (the assailants) stole the ‘transformation computer,’ a core classified item in the embassy,” Thae said in his blog. “In a North Korean embassy, the transformation computer is considered more imp


By The Korea Herald
March 26, 2019

Analysis, Environment

What’s wrong with development in Pakistan?

Pakistan doesn’t suffer from a lack of development, but from flaws in the model of its pursuit. The key implicit assumption in the mainstream development theory is that urbanisation is a manifestation of a transition to ‘modernity’. This understanding is primarily derived from the urbanisation experiences of the countries of the Global North. That is, the industrial revolution allowed European/North American economies to produce large surpluses in the agriculture sector with the introduction of new production techniques. Thus, in the expectation of higher wages in t


By Dawn
March 26, 2019