China’s transport ministry on Sunday slammed Didi Chuxing’s safety lapses as the ride-hailing giant said it would suspend its Hitch service after the rape and murder of a passenger, the second such killing this year.
A 20-year-old female passenger was raped and killed by her driver on Friday in the eastern city of Wenzhou, barely three months after a similar incident in May.
"These two vicious incidents that have violated the life and safety of passengers has exposed the gaping operational loopholes of the Didi Chuxing platform," the Ministry of Transport said in a statement.
"The Ministry demands that Didi… stops making empty promises and takes concrete steps to ensuring passengers’ safety."
Among a list of demands, the ministry called on the Chinese firm, which calls itself the world’s leading mobile transportation platform, to improve its driver vetting and driver education process.
The statement was released after a meeting on Sunday between the company, the public security ministry and the transport departments of Beijing and Tianjin.
Didi said earlier Sunday that it would suspend the Hitch service – which links up commuters travelling in the same direction – beginning midnight on Monday.
The announcement came a day after the company admitted it bore responsibility for the crime, failing to act on a complaint about the same driver from another passenger.
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She claimed he drove her to an isolated area and followed her in his vehicle after she left 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," Didi said in a statement on Sunday.
It would also launch a review of the Hitch service and look again at its emergency response button.
The head of Didi Hitch and the vice president of customer service have been removed from their positions.
Wenzhou police said the driver, identified by the surname Chung, picked up the victim on Friday afternoon but she went missing soon after sending a friend a text message asking for help.
This prompted a manhunt which saw the driver arrested in the early hours of Saturday, police said.
The killing has sparked fresh criticism of Didi – which muscled Uber out of the market following a bruising battle – as angry users voiced concern about its safety.