China’ largest ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing has found itself in hot water, after two passengers using its now-suspended carpooling service Hitch were murdered and many others reported getting harassed by the company’s drivers. While Didi has promised to improve its safety measures, unqualified drivers are still behind the wheel, China National Radio (CNR) has reported.
Last Friday, a passenger identified by her surname Zhang hailed a car using Didi’s app in Guangzhou City, south China’s Guangdong Province, but found her driver to be delirious and speeding on the highway, according to local media South Plus.
After failing to persuade the driver to slow down and let her off, Zhang had to wait until they left the highway and forced the driver to pull off after verbally threatening him and hitting on the door.
The local transportation department later stepped in and launched an investigation into the incident, only to discover that the driver was not qualified to work for ride-sharing platforms.
To qualify as a ride-sharing driver, a regular driver’s license is not enough. According to the country’s regulations regarding online car-hailing businesses, individuals need to obtain a designated driver’s license to qualify as ride-sharing drivers, which requires drivers to have three years of behind-the-wheel experience and a clean criminal record.
In addition, cars used for ride-sharing or carpooling services have to be registered as carrier vehicles, going over strict inspection and obtaining a separate license.
However, many drivers manage to register as ride-sharing drivers with Didi without holding either of the two licenses.
“Without the licenses, you can still register as a Kuaiche driver,” a Didi customer service representative told a CNR reporter who posed as a prospective driver without ride-sharing permits. “And if your car is detained, you could call us and we will help you pay the fines.”
Among all services provided by Didi, Kuaiche is the cheapest besides the Hitch service. Both services place fewer restrictions on drivers and their cars.
On Monday, China’s Ministry of Transportation announced it will conduct inspection on the ride-hailing industry, which will last till the end of this year, as authorities try to revamp the fast-growing sector.
The ministry will work with the police to remove vehicles and drivers that fail to meet standards by the end of 2018, as part of wider efforts to ensure passenger safety, the ministry said in a statement on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.