Didi Chuxing, Chinese ride-hailing business, has suspended its carpooling service after the murder of a female passenger.
Police has arrested the culprit who is accused of raping and killing a 20-year-old female who rode with him via Didi’s Hitch service on Friday in Zhejiang, a province in the east of China.
According to reports by Reuters, the female passenger contacted her friend for help via message before she went disappeared.
Didi announced the suspension of its Hitch service nationwide after it got suspended in the Zhejiang. The other services of the company (carpooling and ride-hailing) are not affected by this suspension.
Hitch is a hitchhiking service that lets passengers ride for free with a driver that is going to the same direction where passengers want to go. Even though the service is free, the passengers are encouraged to leave a tip.
The idea is novel and interesting but has some major safety issues for passengers and drivers alike.
Hitch service was also suspended in May this year when a driver killed an air hostess who got on to his vehicle. The suspension lasted till the June, after which the company’s operations were resumed.
The murderer doesn’t have any criminal record but was flagged as a threat on the platform just one day before the incident took place. A female passenger complained that the driver had requested her to ride in the front seat and then followed her for some time after she left his vehicle.
The company has fired two executives, the general manager for Hitch and the company’s vice president of customer services, following the incident.
Didi has accepted its failings in a statement:
“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. This is too high a cost to pay. We plead for law enforcement and the public to work with us in developing more efficient and practical collaborative solutions to fight criminals and protect user’s personal and property safety.”
In its statement the company has planned to launch a co-supervisory process of its operations and invited members from the public and experts to take part in.
It has also started consulting with relevant authorities about this matter to improve its safety processes.
But for now it’s better for the safety of the public that the service is closed, and shall remain closed as long as it doesn’t find a way to guarantee the safety of all passengers.