Mon, Aug 27, 2018 - Page 15 News List

Ride-sharing firm halts services after passenger’s murder

Reuters, BEIJING

China’s largest ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行), is suspending its Hitch services nationwide, the company said in a statement yesterday, a day after police said a ride-sharing passenger in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou was raped and killed by a driver.

Didi Chuxing, which is also the biggest ride-sharing firm globally by number of trips, said it was sorry that the carpooling service would be suspended today due to “disappointing mistakes” while the company re-evaluated the product’s business model.

Wenzhou police identified the dead woman as a 20-year-old surnamed Zhao.

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

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

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

However, the company on Saturday said 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 exiting the vehicle.

“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,” the company said in the statement yesterday.

The Hitch carpooling service has served more than 1 billion trips in the past three years, the company said.

Didi should be punished if it fails to put customers safety first, the Xinhua news agency said in a commentary yesterday.

Didi increased its safety measures for Hitch after the murder of a flight attendant during a Hitch ride in May.

The steps included limiting Hitch drivers to only picking up passengers of the same sex during early-morning and late-evening hours.

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