Bay man watches helplessly as rental car floats down highway

Neil Bielby watched on helplessly as his rental car floated down a Johannesburg highway
Neil Bielby watched on helplessly as his rental car floated down a Johannesburg highway

A Port Elizabeth man watched his rental vehicle float down a river of water on a Johannesburg highway this week.

Neil Bielby, 56, of Linkside, was caught up in the flash floods on Wednesday which brought the city to a complete standstill.

“I had just left O R Tambo International Airport and at the Gillooly’s Interchange where the R24 [airport road] meets the N12, I could see the canal next to the highway flooded with water. Then it started to come on to the highway,” he said.

Bielby had landed in Johannesburg at 4.15pm and collected a rental vehicle from Bidvest.

He was scheduled to take part in a SA schools cricket meeting in Potchefstroom.

But instead he had to stop the red VW Polo on the verge of the road when he realised there was nowhere to go.

“I managed to get to the outside lane when the water came across the highway and I realised it would hit the cement barrier.”

Within four minutes, the road was flooded with water lapping at the bonnet of his vehicle while he was still inside.

“The car started swaying. I looked behind me and the traffic was backed up so I couldn’t reverse.”

Bielby then got out of his vehicle and made his way to the barrier.

“I climbed over the barrier and watched as the car floated away.”

A few minutes later, the VW Polo, which had drifted about 800m down the highway, was pinned to a pole.

“No one could come and help because the traffic was so backed up,” he explained.

Eventually Bielby was assisted by the police and flew back to Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

According to numerous reports, the storms in the Gauteng area are set to continue into the weekend with insurance companies hit hard with claims lodged.

Flight Centre customer care leader Kim Taylor said because delays or cancellations as a result of poor weather were considered outside of the airline’s control‚ they were not liable to cover the costs for accommodation and food of passengers stranded by cancelled or delayed flights.

Additional reporting by TMG Digital

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