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Didi ordered to kick out unqualified drivers

    The city traffic authority has ordered ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing to get rid of all unqualified drivers and cars by the end of the year.

    The move comes during a nationwide safety overhaul of ride-hailing and the suspension of Didi’s carpool services.

    The ministries of transport and public security will be working to clean up the ride-hailing business before the end of this year.

    The regulators decided to launch the nationwide safety overhaul amid concerns that services may bring more risks than convenience. Two passengers have been killed this year while using Didi’s Hitch service.

    Background checks on drivers and vehicles in the city must be completed by October 31.

    Rules came into force in December 2016 requiring local drivers to be city residents driving cars with Shanghai plates. However, an unqualified driver injured a street cleaner near the Bund last week.

    Transport authorities and police have been ordered to move promptly to ensure background checks on drivers, fulfillment of business responsibilities, better complaints mechanisms, and much improved safety, including satisfactory alarms and response times.

    Businesses will be asked to adopt new technology to forestall risks, including using facial recognition to check the identity of drivers and big data to detect hazards, such as deviations from planned routes and unreasonably long stops.

    More efforts are required in areas including protection of passenger privacy, stricter actions on drivers involved in complaints, and random offline checks on cars and drivers.

    The statement also urged quick responses from authorities to reports of crimes and demanded technological support from ride-hailing platforms for police investigations.

    Car-pooling services such as Hitch pair up people moving in the same direction so they can share travel costs. Hitch is separate from Didi’s main ride-hailing service, which is not affected by the suspension order.

    Didi, used by hundreds of millions in China, came under fire last month when a passenger was raped and murdered by a Hitch driver in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

    Didi faced boycott calls after it emerged the company did not act on a complaint about the driver just one day before the killing. The episode fueled pressure for greater regulation of carpooling services, which generally face less stringent requirements and oversight than regular ride-hailing.

    Following last month’s murder, Didi suspended Hitch and has temporarily halted all late-night services.

    Didi has announced safety initiatives including a one-click “Call Police” function to its application.