Didi reforms ordered after Hitch passenger killed

China's police and transport ministry said yesterday that Didi Chuxing had "unshirkable responsibility" for a ride-sharing passenger being raped and killed by a driver in Wenzhou.

China’s police and transport ministry said yesterday that the country’s largest ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing had “unshirkable responsibility” for a ride-sharing passenger being raped and killed by a driver in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

The company met with both ministry officials in Beijing and the nearby port city of Tianjin and was ordered to carry out a complete reform of its platform to ensure safety standards, Xinhua news agency reported.

A Didi representative said the company felt deeply responsible and would complete by Saturday a new compliance operation to be inspected by the ministries and the public.

Earlier, Didi said it would suspend its Hitch carpooling service from today due to “disappointing mistakes” while the company re-evaluated the product’s business model.

Huang Jieli, Hitch’s general manager, and the company’s vice president for customer services, Huang Jinhong, have been removed from their positions, Didi’s statement said.

The suspected murder of a 20-year-old woman, who Wenzhou police identified only with the surname Zhao, is the latest in a series of violent crimes that have fueled safety concerns about the service.

Zhao got into a Hitch carpool vehicle at 1pm on Friday, and sent a message to a friend at around 2pm seeking help before losing contact, according to a local police statement.

A 27-year-old driver named Zhong was detained at about 4am on Saturday and confessed to raping and killing the passenger, the local police statement said, adding that the victim’s body had been recovered and an investigation was continuing.

Didi said yesterday that the suspect had no prior criminal record, had provided authentic documentation and passed a facial recognition test before starting work.

But the company said on Saturday that there was a prior complaint made against the driver on Thursday by a passenger who alleged the driver took them to a remote place and then followed the passenger after she got out of the car.

“The incident shows the many deficiencies with our customer service processes, especially the failure to act swiftly on the previous passenger’s complaint and the cumbersome and rigid process of information sharing with the police,” it said in yesterday’s statement.

Didi is the biggest ride-sharing firm globally by number of trips.

The company has increased its safety measures for Hitch after the murder of a flight attendant during a Hitch ride in May sparked outrage. These included limiting Hitch drivers to only picking up passengers of the same sex during early morning and late evening hours.

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