Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesian President Joko Widodo took a camping trip to the country’s future capital, he said on social media Tuesday, posing for photographs in a forest at the site of the new city.
The country is preparing to move its capital from overcrowded Jakarta to Nusantara, in a megaproject that has come under criticism from environmentalists who warn it could damage ecosystems in the region.
“Morning, how does it feel to stay overnight at the location of Nusantara? The air was cool and the weather was clear last night,” Widodo posted on Instagram, captioning a picture of the president sitting in front of his tent.
On Monday, Widodo and governors from across the country inaugurated the site with a ceremony in which they brought soil and water from their respective regions and mixed them together to symbolise the country’s unity.
The new capital will cover about 56,180 hectares (216 square miles) of the eastern part of Borneo island, which the country shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
But the project has faced hurdles — with fears over its environmental impact compounded by the loss this week of investor SoftBank Group, which withdrew from the project without explanation.
Widodo announced plans to move the capital in 2019, citing rising sea levels and severe congestion on the densely populated Java island.
The move is set to begin in 2024, but Widodo has cautioned the project could take over a decade to finish.
Indonesia is not the first country in Southeast Asia to relocate an overpopulated capital, with both Malaysia and Myanmar moving their administrative centres in the 2000s.