China’s Didi launches safety revamp after passenger murder

A file picture taken in 2016 shows a taxi driver using the Didi Chuxing app in China. (AFP pic) 

BEIJING: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said Tuesday it would halt most late-night ride services for a week as it tries to reassure the public following the rape and murder of a passenger.

The company has been slammed by passengers and regulators, including China’s transport ministry, after a 20-year-old passenger was raped and murdered by her driver in the eastern city of Wenzhou last month, the second such killing this year.

The company will roll out a series of new safety measures starting Tuesday and halt most late-night ride services starting Saturday for a week, said a company statement.

“Didi Chuxing will do its utmost to strictly meet the bottom line of safety and effectively cooperate with regulators’ oversight requests,” the company said.

New measures include safety education for drivers with a “safety knowledge test” to pass before driving everyday, upgrades to a police call button and experiments with sound recording of the entire ride.

Didi will also add 8,000 members to its customer service team by the end of the year.

They add to other measures already taken since the passenger murder that have failed to calm public anger and fears or stem concerns from regulators.

Those include suspending its Hitch service which links up commuters travelling in the same direction, and a pledge to upgrade its SOS button and itinerary sharing functions, among other steps.

Didi Chuxing – which muscled Uber out of China in 2016 after a bruising battle – says it has 30 million drivers and more than 550 million users across its various services.