Moyale is a market town on the border of Ethiopia and Kenya, which is split between the two countries: the larger portion is in Ethiopia (in the Oromia Region), and the smaller is in Kenya (the capital of the Moyale District). There are four disputed locations within the Moyale district between the Somali and Oromo regions.
An early settler at Moyale was a Greek by the name of Zaphiro, who had a station which he had named "Fort Harrington". When C.W. Gwynn visited in 1908, Zaphiro's station consisted of a garden that covered several acres and his house, located on a spur projecting from the Boran highlands, and providing access through the line of cliffs that run along the border. "This route may well become some day a considerable trade artery," Gwynn predicted. "Fort Harrington is therefore well placed as a healthy administrative post and as a possible commercial centre."
During World War II, both parts of the town was captured by Italians from Ethiopia in 1940, and retaken by the British on 15 July 1941. Tensions rose in the Kenyan side of Moyale in early 1999, after an Imam was shot dead during an Ethiopian raid across the Ethiopian-Kenyan border in pursuit of rebels of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Kenyan residents of the town, held demonstrations condemning the action, which they attributed to Ethiopian security men who believed he was a sympathizer of the OLF.
In November 2009, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced plans to extend the Ethiopian railroad to Moyale. This would facilitate Kenyan plans, which at the time were at an advanced stage, to develop the port of Lamu and connect it to the Kenyan side of Moyale with a tarmac road.
For the Ethiopian share of Moyale, based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, it has an estimated total population of 25,038 of whom 13,665 are men and 11,373 are women. The 1994 Ethiopian census reported that the Ethiopian side of Moyale had a total population of 13,962, of whom 7,411 were men and 6,551 were women. (This total also includes an estimate for parts of the town of Moyale, which were not counted; for these parts of the town, it was estimated 3,419 there were inhabitants, of whom 1,752 were men and 1,667 were women.) The five largest ethnic groups reported in Moyale were the Oromo (37.94%), the Burji (16.85%), the Amhara (16.42%), the Welayta (4.82%), and the Silt'e (4.28%); all other ethnic groups made up 19.69% of the population. Other groups reported in Moyale include the Borana Oromo and the Garre Somali. Oromiffa was spoken as a first language by 49.53%, 21.76% spoke Amharic, 9.96% spoke Burji, 3.96% spoke Welayta, and 3.62% spoke Silt'e; the remaining 11.17% spoke all other primary languages reported.
For the Kenyan part of Moyale, this part has an urban population of 9,276 (1999 census).
Moyale is the name of the town at the main border crossing between Ethiopia and Kenya. Technically one could say there are two towns; Ethiopian Moyale (north) and Kenyan Moyale (south), with the border running between them.
To the north, buses run on the tarmac road all the way to Addis Ababa. To the south, only private vehicles - in particular, cattle trucks - go along the unmade track to Marsabit, and then Isiolo - from where public transport is available on the tarmac roads the rest of the way to Nairobi.
In the afternoon you go for a walk or visit a cafeteria. Moyale (Ethiopia) has a very nice atmosphere.
In Moyale (Ethiopia) there a diffent kinds of offices and schools. The people are very friendly and there is also a boutique.
There are banks on both the Kenyan and the Ethiopian side. The KCB on the Kenyan side has an ATM. Only money exchangers will buy or sell birr for shillings--the rates are horrible. Try stores on the Kenyan side for exchange instead of street touts.
The Ethiopian food is very sweet.
Each side has cheap hotels, a police station, and money changers (illegal but tolerated).
Probably the most important piece of info for Moyale as it has very little to offer as a destination in its self. As is the case for all public bus transportation in Ethiopia you must get to the station by 5:30 AM for the tpical 6-6:30 AM departures. Seats are on a first come first serve basis here and remember that any "bagage handlers" are usually freelancers, but 2-4 Birr will keep them happy. There is no direct bus to Addis Ababa, so take the Shashemene bus and change buses there. Unfortunately, Shashemene bus station is a very inconvenient place to change buses (it is known for its muggings and pickpocketing), so you might prefer to drop at Hagere Maryam, stay for the night and take an early bus to Addis Ababa.
As for its sister city across the border in Kenya, for destinations south, its typically best to get over the day before and start asking around about trucks heading south. It is certainly much nicer of a ride to arrange a spot in the cab of a truck heading south. As of June '05 there is a bus running all the way to Nairobi taking over 24 hours. This is by far the best transport option so ask around as soon as you arrive in Moyale. Both the trucks and buses like to leave very early in the morning so remember to set your alarm clock! For a truck, in June '05 the going rate was 1500 Kenyan Shillings for a cab spot or 1000 Kenyan Shillings for an adventure in the truck bed. Sometimes this covers the cost to Isiolo (as was the rate in April '05 from Isiolo to Moyale) and if you are lucky it will cover the cost all the way to Nairobi (or anywhere along the main Isiolo to Nairobi highway that you want to be dropped off).
Bandits or Shiftas are an on and off problem in Northern Kenya, so best to keep advised of the current situation before heading off. However, for the most part they are uninterested in Westerners, as attacks on Westerners have a higher chance of initiating a response from the military police forces. And many people have used the Isiolo to Moyale route to enter Ethipoia. There is also some recent ethnic fighting between the Gabra and Borana, such as the Turbi massacre, and the situation remains tense between Moyale and Marsabit. Again this violence shouldn't be directed at foreigners but it is good to inquire about the local situation and pay attention.
Security in the area has improved. However, check to see if you need to worry before leaving south. Go to the office of the district commisoner for information, or go to the Red Cross branch, located above the KCB, and they can call the commissioner for you and give you their opinion.
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