Colombo: Sri Lanka is looking for a new operator to revive the much talked about ferry service between Colombo and Tuticorin that had hit a snag due to economic and legal problems after a few months of operation last year.

Sri Lanka has called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from potential operators with a view to resume the 'Scotia Prince' ferry service between the capital and the southern Indian city, that was launched with much fanfare in June last year but stalled due to lack of profitability.

"We have put out advertisements both in India and locally calling for EOIs," a top Ceylon Shipping Corporation official said on Sunday, with February 20 the deadline for submitting response.

"Thereafter, it will be some time before we could evaluate and make the offer to successful bidder," the official said.

The service was started in June last year aiming to tap the potential bilateral business opportunities, amid growing trade links in the post-conflict era.

Operated on a twice-a-week basis, the service had faced a legal hurdle during its short stint and had to be halted later due to a number of problems like poor response, lack of business and a legal dispute.

A commercial court here had ordered retention of 'Scotia Prince' in the port of Colombo until settlement of a dispute involving its Indian caterer.

The Indian caterer had alleged that the ferry owed it 15 million rupees.

According to a report, the concerned authorities are looking out for operators with a vessel capacity of 500 or less, given the fact that the previous operator's capacity was for 1,000 passengers but had been carrying only about 200 passengers.

(Agencies)