Indonesia’s capital Jakarta topped the list as the world’s most polluted city on Wednesday, having consistently ranked among the 10 most polluted cities globally since May, according to data by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir.
Jakarta, which has a population of over 10 million, registers unhealthy air pollution levels nearly every day, according to IQAir.
Resident Rizky Putra lamented that the worsening air quality was putting his children’s health at risk.
“I think the situation is very worrying,” Rizky, 35, told Reuters TV by the side of a road in downtown Jakarta.
“So many children are sick with the same complaints and symptoms such as coughs and cold,” he said.
Jakarta residents have long complained of toxic air from chronic traffic, industrial smoke and coal-fired power plants. Some of them launched and won a civil lawsuit in 2021 demanding the government take action to control air pollution.
The court at the time ruled President Joko Widodo must establish national air quality standards to protect human health, and the health minister and Jakarta governor must devise strategies to control air pollution.
Still, Nathan Roestandy, co-founder of air quality app Nafas Indonesia, said the pollution level has continued to deteriorate.
“We take more than 20,000 breaths a day. If we take in polluted air everyday, (it could lead to) respiratory and pulmonary diseases, even asthma. It can affect cognitive development of children or even mental health,” he said.
Asked about Jakarta’s pollution problem on Tuesday, President Widodo told reporters the solution would be to move the country’s capital city from Jakarta to Nusantara, which his government is currently building from the ground up on Borneo island.
Indonesia is set to name Nusantara as the new capital next year and at least 16,000 civil servants, military and police are due to move there.