(Yicai Global) Sept. 10 -- Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is still hiring unapproved drivers in Zhengzhou, Henan province, despite its pledge to fall in line with regulations after the rape and murder of two passengers using its services.
A reporter from China National Radio contacted the Beijing firm and enquired about whether or not they would be able to work with the platform despite not having a ride-hailing license, and was told that it would not be a problem, the state-owned news outlet reported. The company even offered to cover partial costs if the driver was pulled over by police and fined for not having the required documents.
Didi has been lambasted by the public and local and national authorities after two female passengers were raped and murdered by their drivers in the space of three months. It has apologized over the incidents and pledged to change its ways, with its headquarters now under the watchful eye of 10 Chinese regulators.
The ministries of transport and justice, the Public Security Bureau and seven other authorities set up camp in Beijing on Sept. 5, planning to stay for half a month as they conduct a thorough inspection of the company as part of a probe into the entire ride-hailing sector, including those governing it.
After the sweeping investigation, next step will be to dish out larger punishments for illegal vehicle use and to eliminate passenger safety hazards, according to Zhang Zili, an official with the Zhengzhou Passenger Transport Management Office.
Toeing the Line
Many Chinese cities will only grant ride-hailing driver permits to those who are born and have their car registered there, but Didi has for the most part ignored that rule to keep its recruitment options open.
Shanghai refused to give Didi a license because it employed drivers and used cars that did not qualify under the city's ride-hailing rules, which call for local drivers and Shanghai-registered vehicles, Ma Fei, deputy director of Shanghai's transport bureau, said in April.
But having no license has not stopped the firm. Its app is readily accessible throughout the city and so far Didi has received eight fines of CNY100,000 (USD14,850) -- a slap on the wrist for a company so large. It has happily paid its dues but has done nothing to fix the problem, Ma added.
Editor: James Boynton