China has ordered ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing to suspend its carpool service indefinitely following the murder of two passengers earlier this year.
The Chinese state media has said that the ban will remain in place until the company can demonstrate that it has improved its standards, the BBC reports. China’s Ministry of Transport has called for Didi Chuxing to improve the background checks that it performs on its drivers.
The suspension comes in the wake of the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman by a company driver in August. While the driver’s background check reportedly came back clear, the company had failed to deal with a previous complaint made against him.
The company had already put its carpool service, known as Hitch, on hold following the incident. An investigation resulted in the sacking of two senior executives.
Didi Chuxing had stated that the service was suspended “for now”, suggesting that the decision was a temporary one. However, the company will now need to make considerable changes before it is allowed to operate in China again.
The company had previously suspended its service in May following a similar incident. The company put new restrictions in place which meant that passengers would only be matched with drivers of the same sex during the night.
The Hitch service matches customers who are heading in the same direction, allowing them to split the cost of a fare. The company can continue to operate its regular ride-hailing service across the country.
Didi Chuxing’s service has been suspended as part of an industry-wide investigation launched by the China’s Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Public Security. Authorities have requested that all hitch services in China cease operation until the safety of customers can be guaranteed.
Didi Chuxing: Mimicking Uber is more ways than one
Didi Chuxing is a ride-sharing, artificial intelligence and autonomous technology company, is often referred to as “China’s Uber”.
Had Didi been following its American counterpart, the under-pressure tech company might have seen this coming. Uber was stripped of its licence to operate in London last September due to a “lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues with potential public safety and security implications”.
This was in response to a number of criminal offences reported by customers of the ride-hailing app, and Uber’s lack of work to resolve its issues.
The response to the news has been mixed, with users divided over whether China’s decision to ban the Hitch service will solve such problems.