Didi gets rare rebuke after another carpooling passenger dies

By BLOOMBERG

BEIJING • China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is drawing criticism from state media for its safety practices after a second female customer of its carpooling service was allegedly killed by a driver.

Didi halted the Hitch service to re-assess its business model and remove two senior executives. A driver suspected of killing a passenger in the eastern city of Wenzhou has been detained, according to state media.

The revamp comes just a few months after Didi shook up Hitch in the wake of a female customer’s death in May. After that incident in Zhengzhou, it removed a controversial feature that allowed drivers and passengers to rate each other’s appearance and also stepped up driver scrutiny.

Public criticism has been rare and Didi has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become the most valuable start-up in the country, with backing from giants of the technology world, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and SoftBank Group Corp.

The People’s Daily called on regulators to step up oversight and controls over new technology services. Yesterday, the National Development and Reform Commission said it will crack down on “dishonest” behaviour in the transport sector.

Didi apologised for the latest incident and removed Huang Jieli as Hitch’s GM and Huang Jinhong as VP for customer services. It said the suspension was “because of our disappointing mistakes”.

China’s ministries of transport and public security said they met with Didi representatives on Sunday with the government ordering the firm to immediately rectify Hitch, protect the safety and rights of passengers, and publish the details of any progress it makes.