Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company, has suspended its Uber Pool-esque service Hitch nationwide. The move comes after a woman was raped and killed by one of its drivers in Wenzhou.
In a statement, the firm said that the suspension was the result of “disappointing mistakes,” while it takes some time to reevaluate the business model of Hitch.
A 20-year old woman who was only identified by police authorities with the surname Zhao was said to be the victim of a suspected murder that occurred last Friday, after getting into a Hitch carpool vehicle at around 1 in the afternoon local time. An hour later, she sent a message to a friend asking for help before losing contact.
According to a statement that was released by the local police, around 4 in the morning yesterday, a Hitch driver named Zhong was arrested and confessed to raping and killing the said passenger. An investigation regarding the matter is ongoing.
This morning, Didi Chuxing released its own statement that said that the suspect had no prior criminal record. It said that the drive had provided authentic identity documentation and passed the facial recognition tests prior to receiving his licence from the company.
However, Didi had already received a complaint against Zhong from a passenger who said: “that he had driven them to a remote location before following the passenger after they got out of the car.”
The statement of the company disclosed: “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.”
Today, Xinhua, the official state news agency of China, said that Didi should be penalised if it fails to prioritise the safety of its customers.
The ride-hailing company said that it had already increased its safety measures for Hitch after a flight attendant was killed during a ride last May.
Reuters reported that the steps included limiting the drivers of Hitch to only picking up passengers of the same sex during early morning and late in the evening.
Didi Chuxing consolidated its services with the local Chinese branch of Uber in 2016.