Jakarta too crowded? Move it, some say.

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, lacks the infrastructure to support its huge population. Some say the best way to fix the situation is to move the capital.

Tatan Syuflana/AP
A large pile of garbage which is causing a traffic jam is removed from a roadside on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010. Indonesia's president has a solution for the country's overcrowded, gridlocked and flood-prone capital: Move it, but past proposals to relocate the capital, a project that could cost this developing nation as much as $11 billion, have gone nowhere, and this one may well meet a similar fate.

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When Jakarta is hit by heavy rains, the city comes to a standstill. Residents send out tweets and text messages warning about the road conditions. “Stay where you are,” they caution. Some frustrated commuters simply roll up their pant legs and trudge through the deluge.

Indonesia’s capital has long suffered from chronic flooding and infrastructure breakdowns, making its traffic some of the worst in the world. Car speeds average a mere 5 miles per hour, and time wasted in jams costs the city more than $1.5 billion annually.

Some officials determined to solve the problem advocate moving the capital to a new location and keeping Jakarta as the country’s financial center. Recently, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has backed the idea.

In a city of 9 million, less than half the population has access to clean water, and only around 3 percent have proper sewage facilities. Parks cover less than one-tenth of the city.

Urban planners say moving the capital is too costly and that not many residents and lawmakers would actually leave.

Few countries have had success with capital relocations. Malaysia’s new administrative center is a dead zone, and Brazil suffered massive hyperinflation after it moved its capital to Brasília in 1960. Still, after the lack of effort lawmakers have put toward bettering Jakarta’s infrastructure, some people may think relocating all those politicians isn’t such a bad idea.

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