A decade has passed since Bangkok and the Indonesian capital of Jakarta became sister cities. It was a wise choice because they have much in common, including the same time zone. In both cities, residential and commercial development is outstripping the infrastructure needed to support it, overcrowding is rife with constant migration from the provinces and traffic gridlock and floods are a growing problem. To make matters worse, both capitals are built on soft clay foundations and are gradually sinking.
The World Bank estimates that by 2025, sea water could be lapping at the gates of the Indonesian president's palace. And by 2050, it believes Bangkok's flood risk will have increased four-fold. But Indonesia's current president does not think the country should wait until the last moment. He wants to move the administrative capital to somewhere less vulnerable, a point of view that has sparked a lengthy public debate.
It is a debate we should be taking a close interest in as we have a similar problem. We know parts of Bangkok are already up to a metre below sea level and still sinking; the only point of contention being the rate at which this is happening. Excessive ground water extraction over many years gets much of the blame, though this has been gradually slowed by high fees and awareness campaigns.
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